In the same way that gold and silver are refined by fire, the Lord purifies your heart by the tests and trials of life. (Proverbs 17:3) #EyesonthePrize
The end of the school year and the flurry of end-of-year celebrations and graduations take me right back to my college days. This time of year acts as a trigger, and I am instantly transported in time to my own final days of testing and thesis writing. The first sensation is fear, quickly followed by exhaustion. Those pivotal moments of “make or break” have lasted a life time for me. Do you still have that recurring dream where you signed up for a class, didn’t attend all semester, and suddenly you are taking the final? Or you dream that it is Monday afternoon and you haven’t been to your Monday morning class for weeks because you forgot what you registered for at the beginning of the semester? I think these dreams last for decades because the fear of failure is so deep and so strong, we can’t shake it….even for a lifetime.
Maybe those lingering test anxieties are preparation for the larger tests and trials we will face. Having once faced the Finals Lion and defeated him is good practice for when the (insert your trial here) Lion suddenly grows into a Game of Thrones-like fire breathing Dragon that can take out entire cities with one breath. You know those Dragons: cancer, divorce, rejection, death of a loved one, house foreclosure, addiction, infidelity, raising a teenager…all those life points that are gruesome, impossible, and potentially incendiary.
As you face your fire breathing dragon, did you ever stop to think that you are being made stronger for having done the battle? In the midst of having your eyebrows singed off, (like when your teenager gets arrested and blames you. Or your wife admits an affair. Or your college age daughter is diagnosed with cancer. Or your husband dies of a brain tumor. Or you discover your spouse has been lying for months and hasn’t paid the mortgage. Or…..) can you see that at the end of this, you will arise from your ashes and be more in the image of God? Yeah, me neither.
In moments of fierce and fiery battles, only the promises of God can help us see daylight. When we are beaten down, only the hope of something better at the end of the trial can give us the courage to keep at it. If we lose this hope, there will be nothing but scorched earth around us. That is why it is PARAMOUNT to continue to come into God’s presence in the fire…he is the only way out.
Remember the story of three faithful guys who refused to bow to a Babylonian king? They were thrown into the fire to beat all fires, and look what happened:
with emerge smell of