In the Furnace of God’s Love
crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
By Janice Firn
The Lord tests
our love for him
God initiates his action, provides the test, and forms the covenant. And with the test comes grace – to say yes with faith and obedience, to persevere, and even rejoice through testing and trial.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything….Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. The Letter of James (1: 2-4,12)God promises again and again in scripture that those who obey him will inherit the promised land (Leviticus 25:18, Psalm 37) – a land not just of milk and honey, but a place of abundant life, joy, and happiness with God himself (Deuteronomy 6:3).
Will I obey
The words of Moses to God’s people ring in my ear:
The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 13: 3-4).I was talking to a good friend a few months ago who posed the question, “What if by staying in community you never got married?” It is a question I wrestle with at times. Does the one call supersede the other? I don’t know the answer. Some of my friends have discerned that they would be best following God’s call in their lives by being married and not in community rather than unmarried and in community. Right now, God clearly wants me to stay in community. It is not a comfortable or an easy call.
I keep building my ark
Moreover, the spiritual life is not supposed to be productive (in the worldly sense of the word); it is supposed to be fruitful. I think God is using this time to accomplish something spiritually in me and through me. It is good for me to stand and to be faithful. My “yes” to doing things God’s way is very powerful in a world full of unfaithfulness.
The culture, the world we live in, dictates that women rely on their own strength and abilities to get things done and make things happen: to control. Culture also gives us very muddled messages about women’s roles and God’s order. Satan whispers to us that God cannot provide, is not enough, and cannot sustain us. My knee-jerk response to God’s apparent lack of action and Satan’s lies is one of fear, anxiety, and impatience; which makes me do foolish, ungenerous, and disordered things.
God is not
in a hurry - he acts in his good time
Abraham, for example, moves from one encampment to another. God takes time; but it is not empty time. God is doing a new thing through Abraham. And while in the light of the world’s problems the movement of a wandering Aramean and his concern for tent and flock seem positively laughable, nonetheless, in one place in the world faith is being practiced. So too with me and my counter-cultural response, in my response of trust and obedience I am a powerful witness to the passing away of this world. What power in obeying God and not man, of setting my heart on the eternal rather than just the temporal. God's patience meant that Abraham's descendants did indeed, across generations, become as numerous as the stars. This abundant, faithful God is the God I serve as well. And he tells me “do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded (Hebrews 10:35).”
Now is the
time to respond
God is asking something life-giving of me, and his grace is available.
Most importantly, the response he is asking of me is not limited to my
circumstances or state of life; it is the same response God asks of every
person – to pick up her cross and follow him. Man or woman; single, married,
or widowed – our response should be the same. How God will use our obedience,
confidence, and willingness to embrace his will for our lives today I do
not know, but I trust it will be revolutionary and bear much fruit.
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