Fall is probably the most beautiful time of year in my humble opinion. The colors are otherworldly, the smells of burning leaves and brush, the chill in the air, all promise a cozy winter to come. My husband is outside right now as I write this, burning the trimmings from summer plants and flowers, and the leaves that have covered the yard. It smells like campfires and marshmallows.
How many of us have cried out from the depths of our souls to the Lord, asking fervently for refinement? Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and restore a right spirit within me! I’ve done that, sick of my own flesh, sick of my own will, hungry for Jesus to carry it all away and render my heart clean before Him. Turn my heart of stone to a heart of flesh, burn away any part of me that is unacceptable and unproductive, make me clean and a useful vessel.
So, you’re going along with life, and a situation arises. You are blindsided by the viciousness, shocked at the torment and pain, devastated at the destruction in your life. A wrong perception turned to a completely inaccurate assumption. No amount of reasoning could budge that opinion, no compromise could be found. Friendships were lost, reputation lost, you are alone and cut to the bone. You feel like an old testament burnt offering, an animal fileted down the middle lengthwise, so its blood can run freely like a river into the fire on the alter. You become angry and bitter that such a thing should happen. Why? You cry out to the Lord, you know it’s the enemy come to steal, kill and destroy, John 10:10. You also know you are not wresting against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers of darkness. Eph. 6:12. But why didn’t they see that? Why didn’t they listen to your heart? How did they totally misread you, when they knew you so well? How did they assume you meant one thing when you were talking about another? What is this mysterious burning smell?
Oh, wait, head slap. There is hope, always hope. All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, even things that seem impossible. Romans 8:28. The eyes of your understanding start to become enlightened. You start to see, you start to look with fresh, open eyes as you peer into the goodness of God. Jesus took that ugly situation and turned it upside down for His glory. As you walked through that refining fire, you gained confidence in Him, closeness with Him, an awareness of His seasons and the way Kingdom things work. The weight of fleshly desires is shed; the need to be right and recognized is released. It’s not all about you, but Him alone. Your heart becomes clean, the stony place is turned to soft flesh. There’s an awareness that The Lord has restored a right spirit to you. Joy slowly returns, rivers of living water began to course through. Focus changes, freedom comes. A new power and authority manifests, gifts of the Holy Spirit are clearer and stronger. Freedom, victorious freedom from unforgiveness, bitterness and fear emerge. Thankfulness overflows.
I asked the Lord if this was the refining fire I cried out for so many times. So gently, He spoke into my heart. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. No one is at fault in this, no flesh set out to do evil, it is a work of the enemy. But I come to give you life, and life abundantly. I used that work for the good of all concerned because you are all mine, all righteous, in right standing with God. The branches that are done for the season need to be cut off and burned. Unfruitful branches, spent flowers and leaves, no matter how beautiful, can infect the ground if left to rot. To keep the ground pure, the dross is removed and burned. So, rest. Trust the gardener of your heart. Rest in Me while the work is completed, knowing that you know, that God is faithful to complete the good work He began in you. Rest in comfort and peace as He begins the process of promised restoration. Focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of your life, and find complete joy, victory of heart, and fulfillment. Peace.