Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Treasures, Fire, and the Satisfied Soul

…everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean. (Numbers 31:23)

God wants what is most precious to us, not because He enjoys robbing us of our treasures, but because our treasures often times rob Him of the glory due Him. We all have things, people, hopes, and plans that either do or threaten to rival our affection for God. It wouldn’t require too much time and effort to think of the last time one of our treasures caused us to sin against God in our hearts, if in no other way.

God requires the best we have to offer. No polluted or discounted or left-over or second-best thing can be offered to Him. In the Old Testament times, the first fruits, the first born, the cream of the crop and best of the flock were required…the same is true today, only instead of livestock and harvests, we are called to offer our will, our dreams, the treasures of our hearts.

everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean. (Numbers 31:23)

Back in March, I blogged about this very thing. Then, the treasure was a very specific hope for marriage. That hope has remained in the fire since that day. The Lord has not called me to stop praying – only to leave it in the fire until it is either clean or all burned away. All these months later, I still don’t know which it will be. It has been painful and frustrating and heart-wrenching. It has also served as preparation for this latest treasure which He is taking and placing in the fire: The love I have for my nieces and nephew.

I was told last week that they are moving to Dallas, Texas. It is supposed to be temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a great many things that are just bad and wrong. The thought of being separated from them, of their being in a foreign environment without us, without their Father, is like having my heart excised with a plastic spoon. At times, my fear for them and what this will eventually look like for our family is so strong I can’t breathe. But God…

In Psalm 22:10, it says On you was I cast from my birth and from my Mother’s womb You have been my God. From birth…from my Mother’s womb…before I knew Him or surrendered my life to Him, He was my God. And He is their God, too.

I tell my nieces and nephew I love them all the time. I say “I love you so much.” They repeat it. I say “I love you a million, trillion, billion.” They repeat it. Then I ask “But who loves you more than TiTi?” And they answer “Jesus!” They know this. I know this. Now we all have to live it out. He is their God. He is their protector. As painful as it is, this is His good and kind and perfect will for them and for us.

My flesh and my heart do not like it. “They are the only good thing I have in this world, Lord. You know this.” I cry. “Why must you take them from me?” There is no answer, only a hushed sense that He really just does, and that He is still good and does good always. And, that “the end, it will explain.”

In the original post in March, I wrote: God wants everything…but it must be clean…it must be our best…and little by little, fire after fire, He will have all.”

All is all that will satisfy our jealous God. He is all that will every truly satisfy us. That is why we can and should say with Paul that all loss is gain for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. There is no treasure on this earth or in our hearts that can or should be more precious than Christ…or that will satisfy our ever longing, ever striving souls like He can.

In His poem on Job, John Piper says:
… ponder everything we've lost.
And let us bow before the throne
Of God, who gives and takes his own,
And promises, whatever toll He takes,
to satisfy our soul.
Come learn the lesson of the rod:
The treasure that we have in God.
He is not poor nor much enticed
Who loses everything but Christ.

He will have all. In this respect, also as John Piper says “Jesus is not safe…” No. He is not safe. Those things that are sacred, untouchable to us are the very tools He uses to make us wholly His. They are at His disposal to touch and press and twist and take and put through the fire. But, with that is a promise that “whatever toll He takes” He will satisfy our souls as only He can…and in a way that will bring glory to Him alone.

It is easy to be distracted when things are being taken, when we feel the heat of the fire on our faces and in our hearts, by what we are losing and what it is costing us. The pain of each loss is real, there is no denying that. But what is more real is that the one who is the consuming fire is good and does good always. He loves us and through the taking, through the pain, through the loss He is giving us His best. “The end it will explain…” but in the meantime, may it suffice our hearts and minds to know this one thing: no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9).

We can’t know the outcome, but we can know that it will be good because He is good. We can’t turn the pain off, but we can cast our cares on Him who cares for us and rest in the comfort that is assured us there. We can’t have a guarantee that things will not go as we fear or as we hope, but we can trust that God is sovereign and that His way is perfect. We cannot change our circumstances or those of our loved ones, but we can shift our gaze from what we see to Him who promises that He is always moving and working in the unseen.

everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean. (Numbers 31:23)


  1. It sounds as if in spite of all of these trials, that you are remaining strong and even encouraged by Him. You are in our (LAMommyof3 and I) prayers. {{{Big Hugs!!!}}}

  2. Oh my gosh. I so needed to read what you wrote, and every word of it is true.
    Wonderful site!