Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To Stay in the Fire

Sometimes when I write, the truth of my world at the moment emerges on the page, and it's like I recognize it for the first time.  Writing seems to draw it out of me.  It's not something I plan, in fact it usually happens by accident. 

Like yesterday.  I'm writing in my journal, pretty much rummaging around my heart looking for signs of faith.  And it hits me:  I'm not at a place where I can articulate what is happening to me or in me right now.  I have no idea what mark this chapter will leave on my life, my family, my marriage.  I am hopeful, because I've seen enough to know that God really does work things out for good.  But the good I am hoping for seems so far away, and ultimately it may never be.  Good in God's eyes can be so different from the way it looks in our own.  I have no sense of direction, just a sense of being caught in circumstances I am helpless to change.  I see no movement.  I hate being stuck in the middle of uncertainty.

Here are the words that spoke truth to my heart as they landed on the page: 

The circumstances we are in are doing their work in us--like we are the silver, thrust in the refiner's fire for the moment.  It's impossible for the silver to be fully aware of what is being shaped in it while it is in the fire.  All that registers is the heat and the pain.  Only after it is removed and cooled can it see what the heat and the Artisan's hand have done. . . .  To stay in the fire is faith.  To know that someday I will see its worth is trust. 

Faith can be painted in so many different ways.  Often it is tied to our beliefs, and the strength of our faith is judged based upon what beliefs we hold or what we believe will happen.  Believing becomes a convenient indicator of one's faithfulness.  As long as I believe the right things or in the right way, then I get to be counted in the "good Christian" category.  But what happens when our belief comes crashing down and no good alternative steps up to take its place?

It seems to me that inherent in the belief litmus test is an audacious assumption that our beliefs obligate God to do X, Y, and Z.   Quite honestly God is the most perplexing and frustrating person I know.  Like Aslan in Chronicles of Narnia novels, He is certainly good, but never tame.   What then happens to our faith when (as Beth Moore has said on occasion) God does not behave?  Especially when God does not behave the way we believe that He should?

So faith right now for me is about our relationship, the one I share with this incomprehensible, bigger than I can imagine, and I can't imagine what He is doing right now God.  I choose to be in the relationship, even though some things in my life hurt right now, even though my future is uncertain, even though the answers I seek are not coming, even though I hate being stuck in this place that I can't get out of.

Faith for me is knowing that God is still good, even when I cannot feel His goodness the way I want to.  Faith for me is trusting that in His time He will give me eyes to see.  Faith for me is knowing that there will come a time when every part of this uncertainty will make perfect sense.  Until then, to stay in the fire is faith; to know that someday I will see its worth is trust.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:  Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:1-2

This is me trusting,



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