I thought I’d be floored…devastated… inconsolable.
Yesterday, for the second time in two weeks my heart was broken (or at the very least, seriously wounded) and I didn’t die. Not only did I not die either time, but I haven't been any of the things that I thought I would be should merciful, immediate death not come. I 've not been hysterical or a sobbing, gorging basket case. I've been a bit sad, hurt, broken-hearted, emotional…I have cried and sometimes I've sobbed…but really, I'm ok. I'm functional. And I can see mercy in the heart-break and disappointment.
When I got the “2” of my 1-2 Punch yesterday, I simultaneously heard a verse from an old hymn I’d been listening to earlier in the week:
I saw him in the furnace,
he doubted not nor feared
And in the flames beside him
the Son of God appeared
Though seven times 'twas heated,
with all the tempters might
He said the yoke is easy,
the burden it is light! (Blood-washed Pilgrim)
I’ve been feeling the heat lately. I feel like I am losing or being denied just about everything that is precious to me. Everything but Christ, that is. What this song spoke to my heart is that it is in the flames, when the fire is heated 7 times, that we see The Son of God…that we see Him so well that it is like He is physically right there beside us. Only then.
That thought reminds me of something my friend Elisabeth Elliot wrote:
He is not all we would ask for, but it s precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency. It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my light…it is an opportunity for proving Him to be indeed the El Shaddai “the God who is enough.”
The God who is enough. The God who is in the fire with us. The God who is the fire.
He is the fire I’m in. He designed it. He stokes it…not to be mean or to hurt me (though at times it really does hurt) but to purify me for His glory.
Everything that can stand the fire must go through the fire. –Numbers 31:23
I’m in the fire because He thinks I can stand it…not in my strength (because there is none of that) but in His. And in the fire, I can enter into the fellowship of His sufferings…and see the truth of my heart that more often than not I want so many things before I want Him. I could see this as punishment, but I think it is more like this:
...to cleanse An Upright heart of toxic stains With searing irons is not like chainsLaid on the soul in penalty For guile and crimes no one can see.… God is kind, In ways that will not fit your mind. (John Piper)
It is also another “Chance to Die” as Amy Carmichael would say. And we could all use more chances for that.
After I got the 2nd punch yesterday, my e-mail devotion that I usually get in the morning popped up, so I read it. It said the following:
Dying to Self
The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink? --JOHN 18:11
Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. --ROMANS 12:2
When we are fully delivered from the influence of selfish considerations, and have become conformed to the desires and purposes of the Infinite Mind, we shall drink the cup, and drink it cheerfully, whatever it may be. In a word, we shall necessarily be submissive and happy in all trials, and in every change and diversity of situation. Not because we are seeking happiness, or thinking of happiness, as a distinct object, but because the glorious will of Him whom our soul loves supremely, is accomplished in us. --THOMAS C. UPHAM
It couldn’t have been more fitting. For now this…these losses…fill the cup handed to me by God. Shall I not drink it? It is my portion. Shall I not take it? They are caused and allowed by a God who loves me, who has perfect plans for me, who crushed His son for me…shall I not thank Him for this, too?
I shall. “There is no try.”