Refined By Fire - Really???!
My brother (handicapped since birth, and the sibling closest to me in my family), sent me a precious Christmas present this week, a new book by Randy Alcorn,
90 Days of God's Goodness: Daily Devotions that Shine Light on Personal Darkness.
The quotes (other than mine) in today's post are from this wonderful little book. Thank you Rick!!!
I pray every day, first thing in the morning, and many times throughout the day,
"Lord... I can't make it through this day... without You."
"The Master Artist chose us, the flawed and unusable, to be crafted into the image of Christ to fulfill our destiny in displaying Jesus to the watching universe."
This morning as I woke up, I looked around my bedroom in my sleepy stupor and saw the abject messiness everywhere, and I said to my God,
"Lord, I just don't 'fit' into this world."
And all of a sudden a peace came over me, along with goose bumps pervading my system,
"I'm not supposed to feel that I belong in this world as I am to long for Heaven, my true Home!!!"
Jesus knew, from a tender young age, the angst of living in this world, with its animosities directed right at Him, even as a helpless newborn baby in a manger. No wonder His heart goes out to all of us who are down-and-out, feeling like misfits in this upwardly-mobile and often hostile world. He has been there, many times over Himself. (Read Matthew 2 below where King Herod was trying to find the Babe who was prophesied to be the newborn King so that he could... kill Him... As a newborn baby, Jesus had to flee along with His parents to another country, into Egypt out of Israel, to wait out King Herod, until Herod died, before they could return to safety!)
At a time when I am suffering the worst loss ever, the loss of my 19-year-old baby girl, God takes me even deeper into the angst of the world, into the lives of innocents molested at tiny ages by the villainous of the world. You would think a human's heart could only go so deep into the despair and agony of this world's pain, but with God, it seems the deeper He takes us, the deeper we can go... when He leads the way.
So many therapists have turned these blessed ones away, these blessed among men, women, and children for they have the attention of their Savior's presence, the ear of their Savior's attentive love and compassion, and the tears of their Savior's breaking heart. He invites me to join into His pain, into His heart breaking over the devastations wreaked by the hands of the heartless, merciless Enemy. He invites me to cry with Him, to love with Him, to reach out and be present to His hurting children along with Him. What a blessing. What a sacred trust. What a sweet use of a mother's broken heart...
C. S. Lewis said,
"God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our conscience,
but shouts in our pain;
it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
David Livingstone, Protestant missionary to Africa who died a martyr, once declared,
"Without Christ not one step, with Him anywhere.
"Suffering can help us know God and prepare us to trade a shallow life not worth keeping for a deeper life we'll never lose."
A father who lost his three little girls in an airplane accident uttered,
"After suffering this loss, we know that the only important things now are the ones that will last for eternity."
Today's New International Version (TNIV)
The Magi Visit the Messiah
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Escape to Egypt
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
The Return to Nazareth
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
Photo of blacksmith at work in the refining fire, thanks to FotoSearch
Scripture from the TNIV, Today's New International Version of The Holy Bible