Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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The Refiner’s Fire

Upon returning home from work one day, I was standing at the door of our home. As I reached out to open the door to enter, the voice of the Lord spoke this message to me: “If you were to loose this and all that is in within, God will still be God.” At the time, I did not know why He was telling me this. I remember briefly reflecting as to why He would say this at this particular moment. I thought about my day at school; I was a teacher at the time. I had experienced some trials with a few students that day, and my husband had recently lost his job due to the downsizing process of the company. Regardless of this, I was greatly encouraged in my spirit and felt an almost joyous sense of peace in spite of any of our personal trials. I remember simply thinking, “Okay Lord, I don’t know why you are telling me this, but I acknowledge that it is a word from you and I receive it.” I didn’t really give it any further thought at the time. However, this whole scene, and the message that He gave me has played like a permanently recorded video tape in my mind many times in the years that have flown by since then, each time giving me a deeper understanding of why it was given in the first place. For me, it has been one of those kernels of truth that fit into the category of “to be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.” It has acted as a pillar of truth to help me stand when the storms around are raging. When Satan and just the everyday tribulations of life in general have tried to defeat me or separate me from the love of God, this simple statement has been set on “rerun” to remind me not to let the deceitfulness of Satan’s lies rob me of the truth that God is always in control no matter what the circumstances might be. The reality of God and His power in our lives is not limited to or defined by any daily experience. The Lord never allows anything to be stripped from our lives without replacing it with something far greater and more important to our lives.

In these precarious times, people are losing their jobs or even their families. Families are crumbling and falling apart even when, from all outward appearances, it seems that they are prospering in every respect. Losing your family does not necessarily happen as a result of death or divorce. Married couples can still live together, but they are lost to one another either out of neglect, strife and contention, or because they have reached the point of complete indifference. Maybe you find yourself in such a state as this. You may have been asking yourself, “Why me Lord?” Or maybe you feel angry with the Lord, and perhaps you even find yourself feeling like, “Okay, forget you God!! I’ve tried you, and you just didn’t work in my life, so I choose to go my own way. After all, if you were really a loving God and you really existed, you wouldn’t allow these things to happen to me.” Some may even turn to other things to fill that void and hurt in their lives. Oh yes, lets make a short list of just a few of the things that one may turn to as an escape or lifeline to replace God. This list may include some of the following: alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, work, just to name a few. But do any of these really bring peace and harmony into our lives? If they did, you would expect to see an awful lot of resurrected and fulfilled lives. Yet, instead of redemption, wholeness, and happiness, such choices as these have only served to continue the downward spiral of many lives into greater destruction, devastation, and despair. Like the Word says, “a way seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.”

I don’t know what trials or tribulations you may be experiencing in your life. But I do know that if you let it define who you are, you will also let it determine what you are and what you are destined to become. This is each individual’s choice. I can choose to go down the path of self-destruction, or I can choose to respond to the refining fire of the Lord as did Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo (Daniel: 3).

They were thrown into the fire because they refused to bow down to the statue of a false god as the King had ordered. When the three were thrown into the fire, not just three were seen but four. What can we learn from that? God allowed it to happen, but He was right there going through it with them. They did not ask Him to take them out of the situation. But they did put their trust in Him and His ability to bring them through it. They did not succumb to man or to their circumstances. They trusted in the Lord to show them the way as they yielded to Him. God could have prevented this from happening, but He chose to allow it and look at what the results were. All who were a witness to their deliverance from the refining fires were filled with awe and gave glory and honor to the one true God. So whom do we seek to be glorified in our lives, God or ourselves? Do we trust in Him and seek His guidance to carry us through the storms of our lives, or do we turn away from the Lord, blame Him for our problems and turn our backs on Him because He didn’t answer our prayers when and how we thought He should have? If we are honest with ourselves, some of our greatest gifts were received because He had said NO to our requests. After all, He knows the beginning, middle and the end while we may be stuck right in the middle and unable to understand the middle, discern the elements of the beginning, or see the end.

Compared to many of you, the trials in my life pale in comparison. Maybe you are divorced, in an abusive relationship, or suffer from an addiction. The issue is not how severe our problems are, but rather how great is our God? Do you believe that your problems are too much for God, or do you have faith in the one true Almighty Living God through whom and with whom you can do all things? Do we let our problems dictate our actions so as to keep us a victim, or do we choose to do all that we can to yield ourselves to the Lord, and depend upon Him to show us the way in which we are to go in order to be victorious over-comers, not perpetual victims of sin and troubles of this world. Remember, we fight not against flesh and blood, but against high powers and principalities of the darkness of this world. Are we going to arm ourselves with the full armor of God, or are we going to give into sin and troubles and let them sink our lives like a boat in a storm without a rudder. What is your problem or addiction? Do you do all that you can to “gird your loins,” or do you give in and even provide the elements for your own destruction?

The Lord is a gentleman. He is not going to force Himself or His ways upon you. Neither is He going to put your shoes on for you. He has given you intelligence and the ability to do things. I don’t mean the “Lord helps those who help themselves.” That is NOT scriptural. I do mean that the Lord has provided for you. Sometimes that provision of help may have been sent to you in the form of people like AA, NA, Christian councilors, pastors, other believers, etc. Why do we find it easier to wallow in self-pity and false pride instead of availing ourselves of the “armor” or help that He is providing for us. If one AA group or councilor, or whatever, does not seem to be beneficial, then try another. Don’t give up and give in. Maybe you have found a good source of help, but now the problem now is that you have to actually act and do your homework in order to gain success. Tough break!! Do you choose enslavement and further victimization, or freedom to go on to become the person you were meant to be? The choice is up to you. I can testify that I have a real problem with my weight. It is not reality for me to think that God will just take it off of me. However, I can and do trust in the Lord to help me fight against the battle. Yes, I do fail at times, but that does not mean that I have to give up, give in, and be defeated. I may be defeated in the battle for that day, but it does not mean that I have to surrender to the war. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. Freedom in the Lord does not come without commitment and obedience. Do you choose life or death? Satan is out to seek whom he can destroy. If we choose not to abide in the Lord through the power of His Holy Spirit within us, then we have chosen to leave ourselves open to the domination of Satan and, or the temptations of the flesh.

Why is it that we are surprised and confounded when trials and tribulations come in like a flood? Has He not told us in His Word that we are going to have trials and tribulations in this world? After all, didn’t Jesus, who knew no sin, face far more than we could ever face? They tried to kill Him when he was a baby by killing all Hebrew male babies two years old and under. Did His persecutors not scourge, beat, and finally crucify Him? Did He not willingly leave the glories of heaven to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself that we might be saved through faith in Him as Lord and Savior? So where in the world do we get the idea that we should be able to just float above all the troubles of this world? Our journey through this life is our opportunity to choose to receive Him as Lord and Savor that we might have eternal life through Him. When we have hard times, in our weakness He is strong within us. He has promised to be our comforter as we go through the trials of life. Remember Peter and his companions were thrown into the darkest pit in jail. From all appearances, they were truly forsaken.

Yet they did not let their circumstances dictate who they were, what they were, or how they were to feel or react. In stead, at midnight they could be heard singing praises unto the Lord. From appearances they were lost. What in the world did they have to be singing about? Yet, that is exactly what they were doing. Were they grumbling, complaining, cursing God, turning their backs on Him, blaming Him for their problems? Absolutely NOT! They were singing praises to the Lord. What happens when we praise the Lord? Well, the Lord inhabits the praises of His people; where two or more are gathered, there He is also. Therefore, Peter had the “peace that passes understanding”. The jailers saw and heard this. They marveled at the greatness of this God and the Lord was glorified.

I don’t know what trials or tribulations you may be experiencing in your life. But I do know that if you let it define who you are, you will also let it determine what you are and what you are destined to become. I agree that it is a hard thing when we have such awful trials and tribulations to deal with in life. However, we are commanded to endure to the end, or another way of putting it is, “having done all to stand, to (continue to) stand.” In stead of asking “Why me, Lord?” maybe we should be asking Him, “Lord, I don’t understand why I am placed in these circumstances, but what I really want to know is, What is it that you want me to learn or do? How can this be used to work for my good that you may be glorified in my life?”

Almost four years ago, I fell at work and was injured. As a result of a concussion, I had to quit teaching. Because of the consequences of post concussion syndrome, I have suffered Photophobia, which makes me ultra sensitive to light and often affects my ability to walk unassisted. I praise the Lord that I have been improving slowly over time. However, it has meant that I have become pretty much homebound. I don’t drive because you can’t drive and close your eyes at the same time if the light hits you. Therefore, I am also dependent on others for transportation. This has been a drastic change for someone who was used to going out to work and having an active, independent life. My husband recently commented that he had been very concerned about how I was going to handle these new circumstances. Well, it would have been very easy to fall into depression, self-pity, get angry with God, blame Him for my troubles, and the list could go on and on. But that has been far from what has really taken place in my life. I do not tell of this to lift myself up in any prideful manner. In stead, my purpose is to exemplify what the Lord can do for you in spite of your experience and circumstances. So I wish to give Him all the glory. He is the one that helps me daily. In His loving care of me, He has also provided help, encouragement, support through family and friends. My sisters, brothers, in-laws, children, and their children have been there to help me, encourage me, pray for me in so many ways I can not enumerate them. I thank them and the Lord for all that has been done for me. The outpouring of God’s love from each of them has flooded my soul. I asked the Lord to help me learn how to spend my time wisely and productively as He gave me the ability and energy to do so. Being encouraged by Him and others, I have learned to use my time to write, not only about stories of my life, but also about different topics from the Bible as I have felt led of the Lord to do so. In addition, I have found the joy of crocheting, making projects for others. Sometimes the final outcome of a project would begin as a “mistake” and then the Lord would surprise me and show me what could be made out of a “mistake.” Oh what fun that has been.

Then too, as a direct result of encouragement and time spent with members of my family, I have begun to spend more time with the Lord through studying His Word and in intercessory prayer. These moments are some of the greatest jewels of treasure. In addition, Rick and I are back in a church, and also learning and growing as a result of a selection of TV ministries that speak greatly to our spirits. In fact, several of my Biblically related writings were inspired as a direct result of these television pastors. Rick too has been led to write, especially about the consequences that we are paying as a country due to the increasing secularization of our culture.

So, for me, I am truly learning day by day what it means to trust in the Lord. I thank Him for the peace that comes from learning to have a closer walk with Him. His wisdom is far more precious than any other type of knowledge. Learning to spend more time in His Word and intercessory prayer has come as a direct result of a blow to my head, something that at first appearances would seem to be detrimental to me. I don’t mean that I am glad that I got hurt. What I do mean is that He is teaching me how to be content regardless of circumstances or appearances. He is demonstrating the meaning of greater rewards in this life as His Spirit uses even negative events to bring about positive change and transformation in our lives, to become more Christ-like, and serve Him. I guess the bottom line is – His grace is sufficient and no matter what happens, God is still God and He is in control.

I wait upon the Lord with excitement in my heart as He reveals Himself to me more and more.


If you are tired of being a victim of your circumstances, perhaps you would like to join me in this prayer:
Heavenly and Holy Father, I remember that you have told me that you will never leave me nor forsake me. You promised that you would continue to perfect that which concerns me. You have also promised that the good work that you began in me you will continue until I see you face to face. Oh yes, I must remember to yield myself to your will in my life, that you may take those things that Satan has meant for my harm and turn them into things for my good. Not only that, but you said that IF I yield myself to you and seek the kingdom of God first that all the other things, like receiving the desires of my heart, would be done unto me also. Oh, yes Father, I do hear you. I understand that those “desires” from my heart must be based on your Word that instructs, corrects, and provides wisdom and discernment that I may be set free from enslavement to sin. Understanding and following your ways protects me and keeps me from being deceived by Satan, myself, or others. Please Lord, help me to keep focused on you that I may hear your voice and attend unto thy Word. Help me to not just acknowledge who you are, but to be obedient as a doer of your Word and not just a hearer. Satan and his demons know who you are, but they do not obey you. They do tremble at your name. I must resist the devil for “greater is He who is in me than He who is in the World.” Help me Lord to walk in obedience to you. Oh Lord, help me not to sink into self-pity or rebelliousness, but seek to love you with all my heart, soul, and spirit. Let me not be stiff necked, hard hearted, or lean unto my own understanding, but to be uplifted and led by every word from the mouth of God. I do not seek to glorify myself, but to glorify my Lord in thought, word, and deed. What I’m really seeking Lord is guidance from your Spirit and your Word that I may do and learn all that you want me to that I may be transformed into the person that you have purposed me to be. Help me Lord to resist the desires of my old nature that I may die to myself in order to become more Christ like and glorify Thee. You are the Potter; I am the clay. Melt me and mold me into thy image. Let me not shrink from being transformed into your image by the power of your Holy Spirit and the Refiner’s Fire. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer with sincerity, go forth and do all that you are led to do by the Holy Spirit to walk by faith in the Lord. Those who are set free by the Lord are free in deed. You are not saved “by good works,” but you are saved to “do good works” that you may glorify the Lord in all your thoughts, words, and deeds. By determining to seek His face daily, you have the victory through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior

Ginger Rahn