Refined for His Glory

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10

This verse was awaiting me this morning in my Daily Streams devotional app.  What a timely verse.   God has been bringing me through a journey of faith in these recent months.  He has been changing me from the inside out.  It hasn’t been easy, but yet I have known deep within me that change with the goal of becoming more like Him is worth the price tag that comes with it.

I recently fully grasped two very important truths:   God is God, and I am His Child.  Last night God worked to solidify those truths within me.  It  wasn’t easy; it was quite painful.   Actually, I think I initially required Him to throw me back into the fire for a little more refining. 🙂  But this morning with the reminder above as well as His working within me throughout the day, I get it.  And even more, I am thankful.

God is God.   He was in the beginning, is now, and forever will be.   He is creator.  He is my sustainer.   He is everything…omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent.  He is.  He knows me better than I know myself.  He spoke this world into existence. Spoke!  Seriously, who else can say “Let there be light,” and light appears?!   Who can say, let the land bring forth plants, and plants appear?  No one!  God is God.  If a mountain needs to be moved, He will move it.  If a door needs to be opened, He will open it.  If it needs to be shut, He will shut it.  And nothing surprises Him.  Nothing. He is God.  God.

So even the meeting I attended last night did not surprise Him.  Actually, He used it to refine me and to grow me.  As I’ve said, God’s been taking me through a difficulty journey.  I’ve had some tough moments in these past months.  There were some big giants to face, giants that have been there for years.   Yet one giant I hadn’t faced before was seeing a plan and desire of mine begin to unfold while knowing I was not going to be there to be a part of it.   My heart hurt.   I was even angry.  I just couldn’t understand it with my finite mind.  I felt like I was looking over the hill into the promised land while also being told I’m not going to enter it.

Langston Hughes wrote a poem entitled “Dream Deferred” in which he questioned what happens to a dream when it is put off.  Each image is one of items rotten and ruined due to lack of care and lack of hope.  It’s depressing.  The poem ends with the question “Or does it explode?”  Last night I felt like I could explode.   I almost wanted to give up, to just revert back to the old me who didn’t pursue dreams for fear of failure, who didn’t pursue relationships for fear of losing them.  I wanted to throw up my white flag and retreat.

Yet I knew that wasn’t God’s plan.  Why?

Because God is God–a faithful God–and I am His child.  God loves me and calls me His own.   Galatians 4:4-7 states, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”  I am a child of God, and I am an heir.  He has adopted me into His kingdom and I can cry out to Him, “Abba, Father!”  He cares for me.  He loves me.  Because He loves me, I can trust He has plans for me, plans far better than I could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  He has a future and a hope for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

So even though last night I looked at what I was hearing and seeing as a vision of what I was missing–perceiving it as my promised land being flaunted before me, God in His infinite wisdom has since shown me His perspective.   If what I was listening to and seeing was a desire of mine and He is not allowing it at this time, then it is because He has even greater plans for me, plans beyond what I could hope or imagine.  God’s ways are higher and greater than my ways.  If what I saw last night will not compare to what lies ahead, then I say bring it on.  I wait.  I trust.  I hope.  I place my future in God’s hands and pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

 

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God Has A Plan

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. (Isaiah 64:4)

There are some people in life who take life as it comes–chaos or calm–they take it on and enjoy the challenge and diversity of change.   Me–well, I’m a dreamer and a planner.  I like to dream about all the possibilities that could possibly be out there regarding my future–both good and bad–and then I like to plan how I might get to those possibilities or avoid them.   Words I don’t care to hear regarding my life and future are “Surprise!” or “Just kidding!”   “Surprise” means something has come along I was not expecting.  “Just kidding” means what I thought would be no longer will occur.

Yet then I read verses like above.  God is stating that nothing that has entered my thoughts and heart, nothing I could ever have dreamed up nor ever will dream up can compare to what He already knows and has planned for me.   God has a future and a hope for me (Jer 29:11).   According to Proverbs 19:21, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel–that will stand.”   God has prepared a path for me, one that will best draw me to Him and give Him the glory He deserves.  I may dream and plan, but ultimately, God’s counsel is the one that will stand.

Just recently I heard both the “surprise” and the “just kidding” within days of each other.   Something unexpected came as I had to let go of what I knew.   Actually, almost everything I had come to know in my life was uprooted.  Yet as I walked through the initial shock of each of these, I’ve been able to see God’s faithfulness through it all.  He’s had a plan all along.  His ways are indeed higher and better than my ways.   Would I have ever dreamed of moving to a completely different place, having to leave everything I’ve known for 19 years to go where I knew no one?  Nope.  But now that it is happening, I am getting excited at the new adventure and realizing it really is an answer to the prayers of my heart to have my family be together.  Did I ever envision a close relationship that typically takes months and years to form within days?  Nope.  But God has used this person to heal my heart and to grow my faith in ways I myself never would have imagined.  But God imagined it.   Did I ever envision having to say good-bye to this new friend so shortly after getting to know her?  Nope.  But God has developed a connection I know will last the distance.  Face to face may no longer happen often, but the heart to heart will.  Did I ever imagine I’d say good-bye to a ministry I’d poured my heart into and thought I’d be doing to the day God called me home?  Nope.   But as I say good-bye to the ministry, I know God is with me and has other plans for my future.  He has helped me to let go of it while also giving me an inner hope and knowing He will use me elsewhere.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).   Silence has always tended to be scary to me.  Silence has meant anger, resentment, or rejection.  Yet not with God.   He asks us to be still.  Even more, He usually speaks in the silence with a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12).   So as I walk through this world, as I walk the path set before me, I will trust and I will rest before Him.   When the path takes a sudden, unexpected turn, I will not fear.  Whether the turn takes me away from something I’ve known or introduces me to something I’ve never known, one thing I will know is  God is God, and I am His child.  I will, “…hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

I may be a dreamer and a planner, but my God–the one true and only God–is the ultimate planner and dreamer.   Do I want my dreams or His dreams?  My plans or His?  HIS! I want His plans for me.  After all “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.  

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)