Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Crucible:Heatproof Container for Melting the Hardest of Metal

I was reading the Psalms the other day and I was struck by the sheer amount of lamenting that David does in the Psalms that he writes.  Really, a lot of stuff that he writes is pretty morose and depressing.  Granted, David spent years of his life annointed as king, while running for his life from the king he is in line to succeed.  Then, when he becomes king, he does some pretty stupid things (like killing one of his loyal followers to hide his affair with this man's wife) and suffers some pretty deep consequences for this (the death of the son from that affair).  Later on in his reign he is on the run again from his own son who wants to kill him and take over the kingdom from him. 

To say that David knew pain and suffering would be an understatement.  The Psalms that he writes reflect a lot of this pain.  Anyone who has ever read Psalm 23 will testify to this: David knew death knocking at his door.

I just got done reading one of Bob Sorge's many books and in it, he writes about how many of us want to have a heart like David's.  Yet, to get that heart, we will have to go through the same kinds of trials David did to get that heart.

I know for me, the longing of my heart since I was a little girl to *know* God.  I remember when I was in elementary school I went through a period of time where night after night for several months I would cry out to God to know Him more.  I would weep and cry over this.  I have vivid memories of lying in bed praying and weeping for God to make Himself known to me.  To this day when I think about this period of time in my life, there is no longical explanation for what prompted this within me.  My experience with the Lord up until that point had been limited to Sundays at a very theologically conservative church.  Certainly no one in my church or home was teaching me to long for the Lord in this way.  The only thing I can think of is that this must have been a pure prompting of the Holy Spirit.  It does not seem fathomable that I could have worked that longing in my heart on my own.

I fully believe that there was a deposit from the Lord placed within me from that young age.  Even in my times of walking away from the Lord, the ache within me to truly know the Lord has never gone away. Additionally, it is this deep longing  that has stuck with me through crisis moments like I have had the last two years.

In *no way* do I equate my last two years with the despair of David or Job.  Nor do I claim that my heart for God is even close David. However, I have had my own personal devastations:

1.  Health: I have in the last two years had a thyroid condition that has been diagnosed.  This has not been life-threatening, but has affected my health negatively.  I tore my rotator cuff this past fall, which has not healed and most recently have had some additional health problems that might affect my ability to ever have children.

2.  Finances:  I quit my job a year and a half ago to travel to Europe on a missions trip for three months.  Upon my return I did not find a job for three more months.  Then, after getting job at the zoo, my position was cut after just four months due to the recession.  My next job, with a non-profit, was also cut after four months.  I have almost lost my house and am currently one paycheck away from possibly losing it again though I gained a different position at the zoo.

3.  Friendships:  Due to some decisions I have made and several other friends moving away, I have lost almost everyone closest to me.  I have written about this a lot and probably don't need to expound on this any more than necessary.

4.  Family: My immediate family, praise the Lord, has been great.  My mom and dad are in good health, as are my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  However, the longing to have my own family has not faded.  The Lord's timing on this is still "not now."  As time passes, the pangs of the absence of this do not fade.

5.  Ministry:  When I left for Europe a year and a half ago, I also quit all of the ministries I was involved with at the time because I was leaving for so long.  I had had a staff position on my church's staff up until that point.  Upon returning, for the last year and half, I have been serving and have had occaisional moments of ministry, but the calling on my life I have always sensed has seemed further away than ever.  Even the three months I spent in Europe in ministry brought more lessons learned through difficulties than amazing joyful stories.

I write that list, not as a means to gain sympathy from anyone.  The list is simply an acknowledgement that life has been particularly hard for me these last two years.  I *certainly* realize life could be way, way worse.  I am not ignorant of the fact that many people on this planet, even in my own city have it far worse than I.  This does not mean that the last few years have not been particularly hard for me.  The Lord always handles each of us uniquely and this has been His unique crucible for me.  This crucible designed to prepare me and qualify me for what He wants to give me.

In the last few months in the midst of this crucible, something has been happening within my heart.  I have been getting back to that little elementary school girl crying out in the middle of the night: "Lord, I just want to know You.  I need a miracle.  I need rescuing.  I can't do this any more.  Save me. Help me."

There has been a simplicity and vulnerability with the Lord that I have not had in a long time.  I have known in my head that the Lord recues, that He saves, that He helps.  But, it isn't until I have *needed* Him to be manifest in my life in that way that I have experienced Him in that way.  I have been here before several times, but I feel like these circumstances have been put here divinely to get me to a deeper understanding and place of this again.  It is also quite likely circumstances will be allowed in the future to take me deeper still.  It seems God will do everything in His power to strip us of all we hold onto, of all we place our value in, of all that brings us comfort, of all we rely on, of all we need, and of all that holds us back in the place of Him.

He wants to be number one on our lives, and if we are lucky enough for Him to discipline us in this way, we can praise the Lord that we are counted as one of His true sons or daughters. 

God is answering my prayers as a little girl to know Him, but this has not happened the way I ever thought it would or any way I would chose it.  To know Him deeper, I have to go through this process that I am in, the same process David, Job, and all the men and women of faith went through.  I have to go through this crucible.  I can either endure this and come out the other end with a greater intimacy and love; or I can fight this process and stay right where I am with the Lord unless He decides to attempt this process again until I get it.  The worst would be that I would fight the Lord so much that my heart would become hardened or He quits trying with me.  I pray that never, never, never happens with me; and should you desire greater level of intimacy with Him, may He chose to put you through the crucible too.


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