Monday, September 21, 2009

Heart Refinement

"The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests the hearts." Proverbs 17:3

"He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the LORD
An offering in righteousness. " Malachi 3:3

Change is always a scary proposition. And sometimes it's terribly difficult, but there IS a reason. I find these references in scripture to metal refinement eerily accurate. Refinement of metal is done by fire. A lump of gold goes in the fire to be melted. In the process, impurities can be removed, and then all that is left is the pure gold- but there's no other way to remove the impurities. It must be cast into the fire to be refined.

And sometimes, when we're going through change, seeking God and seeking His Righteousness for our lives, refinement takes place. I see it happening crystal clear right now in my life. I see the process underway, as things that have been important to me in the past have been growing less important all the time. Like this computer that I'm sitting at, and my blogging. While I still maintain this blog on a very regular basis, all the rest of them are suffering from a lack of updating. And where I once felt a strong desire to blog, I'm finding that desire to be less and less all the time. It was once important to me, but let's take a walk through some of that blogging, shall we?

When I think about something to write on my food blog, it's a process. It begins with an idea to cook something. Grocery shopping usually takes place, followed by the cooking process- which can take a while sometimes. This is followed by the plating and food-styling (as much as I do anyway) and the photo shoot. Then I mosey over to the computer upload and edit photos, and then begin the process of blogging about the recipe. It really is time consuming! And where it has been a labor of love, more so these days, it's just something I don't want to take the time to do. God has placed more important desires in my heart. This blog continues because the process is so very different- it starts with my Bible, or Bible Gateway, and a few verses of scripture. Usually there is praying involved, and then I sit down, verse in hand and begin to share what God is telling me about this verse today. In the process of blogging, I'm spending time with Him, or encouraging others to love Him- it's a very good use of time.

Yet I am missing my blogging. I'm missing the connections I've made over the many years I've been doing it. At the same time though, if God is refining me and taking me to a new place, with new purpose and new ideas, I think it's kind of exciting. I could rationalize the food blogging all I want- I can say that if someone looks on my food blog, it might lead them here where they could learn how much God loves them. But the reality is, that I just don't think that many people interested in my food blog, click over to this blog. There is no rationalization in the refining process- there's no room for it. So I've been blogging a lot less, and will continue on that path unless God tells me to stop it altogether.

The refining process can be painful... it's going through fire after all. Sometimes it's our trials and struggles that we go through that are refining us, molding us and shaping us into the perfect beings that God wants us to be. It can be incredibly painful, but as we're going through the purification process, as the impurities are removed one by one, we can keep our eyes on Him. We can know that when the process is done, we will be more like Him, and shaped and molded into what He wants.

So I think this morning. I think about the refining process, and I think about going through fire, and I think the whole process is totally worth it, but it also makes me want to take a look inside. It makes me want to examine my heart myself. Is there anything in there that I can take care of myself? Is there anything I can remove and spare myself the painful procedure to come? Is there something in there that is taking up too much of my time? Does my heart drift towards places it doesn't belong? And what am I putting into my heart? Am I reading something that is feeding my soul something I don't want in there? Am I spending time watching something on TV, online, or at the movie theater that is not uplifting to my soul?

It's interesting, as I know I've been going through a refining process for a while, and I think about my reading choices. I am an avid reader- I read a lot of books of many different genres, but lately, I've had to put so many books down, or quite frankly, not even pick up a lot of books. While reading is purely for enjoyment, as I read, if I'm reading something unwholesome, or against Godly principles, you can be sure that the devil is filing that away to bring out sometime. TV is the same way. There was a show we started last year that we really enjoyed- it wasn't on a regular mainstream channel, but the actors were ones that we really enjoy watching, and the story of the drama was very fast-paced and very well written. We probably watched about seven or eight episodes of it, enjoying it, before something started nudging at me. In the back of my mind, I could see where some of the story lines were leading some of the main characters into a situation of adultery. And where this show started out fairly innocuous as far as innuendos and such go, I could totally see where the plot was headed. So we simply stopped watching it. I don't even know if it's still on, to tell the truth, but we saw ahead what was going to happen, and that we didn't want to take that into our minds, and we turned it off.

Even now, I have the first episode of a new season of Survivor on the DVR, and I'm really waffling about watching it. I'm trying to decide if I should watch it- is watching the suffering of these people- the fighting and the bickering and the tribal dynamics something that lifts me up or brings me down? Right now, I'm leaning towards deletion.

The refining process. It's ongoing, and it seems there's always something to be worked on or removed. I can say that it's easier to just let the process happen. Once I realize what is going on, it's kind of one of those deals where I lift up my hands and say "whatever you think, God"- almost in exasperation, but it's easier to give in than to fight it, and deal with the struggle. So as the process is ongoing, I pray that I will see when change is necessary and that I will not resist that change that is so natural to resist. I am His and He is mine, and He just wants what is best for me and for my family.

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