“He is like a refiner’s fire” – Malachi 3:2
Yesterday I was getting ready for my retreat, shopping and packing and all that, and I was thinking about what all this is about. The Christian walk seems to be one of seasons, or cycles. We are in close relationship with the Father, then we are coasting along, suddenly we find ourselves in a dry place, and then we go through a time of great growth, as painful as it is. And so on. It seems like most serious followers of Christ go through one or more times in their lives that is described as a “dark night of the soul”. The whole process brings about renewal and the great work of God in our lives if we are dependent on HIm and yield to His will. Regardless of the season, it can be marked by an undercurrent of deep joy. Anyway, certainly not a new concept or idea.
Many important aspects of life are like that. Marriage is like that. A Christ-centered marriage is not without conflict. We have times of celebration and carefree enjoyment, times of coasting along, then suddenly we find ourselves a bit distant and tripping over some persistent issues, then there is a time of bringing back together – great growth, even though it can be painful. If we are faithful to one another and rooted in Jesus and intentional love, we end up closer and stronger than before. It’s rather beautiful, really.
Right now, my spiritual life is what I would describe as a “flood” stage. Total upheaval. It’s daunting and exciting and exhausting. My marriage is going through a growth stage where we’re pulling closer together and focusing on our relationship. I was only barely aware that we were in a coasting-turned-tripping stage until a few days ago. I am blessed to have a husband that is so attentive and loving that he stopped all our “busy-ness” to refocus our marriage and our family.
Hmm. In my experience, pretty much everything of value goes through these cycles. Work, friendships, relationships with relatives, parenting, hobbies, health, etc. Creation goes through cycles and seasons, from the changing of weather to the cycle of a butterfly. Nations go through seasons. History goes through seasons.
It got me thinking, WHY? It seems sure that God designed this pattern into life for us. Why do you think that is? Aaron and I talked about it for a long while. It seems to us like God uses these seasons and cycles in our lives to mould us, if we are yielded, into the image of Christ. It is the crucible of life – refining us and sanctifying us. If we don’t depend on God in these situations, we’ll either be consumed by the fire or we’ll be shaped by circumstances instead of the hands of God. We’ll be all lumpy and skewed instead of how God intended. I also think seasons keep us appreciative of the good times. We come to appreciate the more pleasant seasons more fully, and they make the less pleasant ones more tolerable.
Then Aaron and I launched into a “will there be seasons/cycles in heaven” debate. That, my friends, is a post for another time, perhaps. One thing to note, however: My husband is really really smart. It’s kind of irritating. 😉
Anyway, there is no doubt in my mind that I am going through a season of refining right now – God is burning away impurities and pride, selfishness and imperfection. It is a life-long process, but these seasons of focused refining are of great value. I always end up refreshed and rightly aligned afterward. I am strengthened in my trust of a faithful God who is steadfast in love – one who doesn’t throw up His hands and walk away in disgust as I stumble through life, but instead holds my hand, holds me up, and teaches me how to walk with Him.
There’s lots more on my mind about this, but my 2 year old just woke up (late – yay!) came downstairs, handed me a mug, and said he’d like some coffee. HAHA!
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3:1