Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Truly Our All In All

Relationships. Ah, that wonderful thing we all crave. Be it a good friend, or a special someone, life is dull without someone to share it with, right?

We all want someone with whom we can cry, laugh, and share our hearts... someone who will love us unconditionally. And, we all need friends. Don't we? We think we do. After all, God made us to have meaningful relationships. Our desires are God given. He ingrained a need for companionship into our nature.

But only One Person can completely fulfill that need. The only absolutely necessary friendship is with One Friend. All others will fail us at some point. Until we are finding our fulfillment and worth in Christ, He may take away friends. He may choose to withhold our dreams from us.

We say that He is our All in All, but do we mean it, from our heart? His purpose is to bring us to the point where we are content with Him alone, willing that He bring anything, take anything in our life, and we still say "Blessed be the name of the Lord." If that means taking away our earthly "idols," that is what He will do. Until we find that He is sufficient. He is enough to meet every need, fulfill every longing. He is the only one who will truly love us unconditionally.

So, why won't these desires go away? Either God wants to fulfill them, or He has a higher purpose. A friend showed me some verses (Deut. 8:2-3), and they've been such a help and encouragement to me! I think they show quite clearly what sort of purpose He has is mind:

"And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth
not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live."

So, He's allowing these desires to see if I love Him more? He wants to see if I will do what I know is right, and come to Him with my heart? He wants me to find my worth and fulfillment in Him alone? Maybe He's saying, "Marissa, lovest thou Me? If you love Me, keep My commandments. I know it's hard, but I didn’t say it would be easy. I said I am with you."

The King of kings has promised to be with me, and He is faithful that promised. He cares enough to be my Friend, to take part in every detail of my life. All the love, encouragement, and affirmation I really need I can find in His Word and in prayer. Why do I so often insist He not enough? Well, He's still working on me. I want my prayer always to be, as Elizabeth Prentiss, "More love to Thee!" If He should call me to a life with only Him by my side, He will give grace to live it joyfully.

Printed December 2005, Hidden Wisdom Magazine, Vol.69. (See text at bottom of page for more information.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thy Gold to Refine

Pain. Heat. It’s almost unbearable at times, isn’t it? Refining is an extremely painful experience.

I’ve heard a story of how a man was watching a refiner of gold. The refiner kept turning up the heat, until at last, the curious onlooker asked him, “How long do you need to keep that fire burning?”

The refiner replied, “Until I can see my reflection in the gold.”

What a picture of what the Refiner does to us, His treasures, His gold! When he adds more wood to the fire, we cry out, “Lord, why? I can’t cope with any more problems! The heat is high enough already!”

But He just says, “Wait and see. I am making you more beautiful and much more valuable to Me. I will not give you more than you can bear.”

God has said in His Word, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” He will give grace to endure whatever trials and testing He sends!

It is a beautiful picture of what God is doing in my life. Within this past year, we had to leave our church of people that we had churched with for eight years. Now, we don’t see them more than a few times a year. It’s painful. Very much so. But I have grown so much closer to my Saviour throughout it. He has led me into such a sweet, close relationship with Him, dearer than any earthly friendship can ever be. It almost makes it worth it all. I know that it will be worth it all, when He is finally finished with me. I am so thankful that He is faithful, and He never gives up on me. His love and tender mercies never fail!

Throughout everything, God has used this hymn as such a comfort and encouragement to me:

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who, for refuge, to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I will never, no never, no never forsake."
--John Rippon

He knows my distress, my pain, and He is with me, strengthening me. He will never leave or forsake me. His grace is sufficient, and His love is forever. He will not leave the heat on any longer than necessary. Only until He sees His reflection in me. Until I am truly a Christian — a copy of Him.

(Printed March 2005, DGSP Magazine. See text at bottom of page for more information.)

Rest in the Lord

Based on Psalm 37:7, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him..."

Often we are tried and troubled
Many a care have we;
Jesus knows each thought, each feeling,
He sees what we can’t see.
He knows that every flame He sends
Will only purify;
Every flood can wash us clean
When He is by our side.

Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him
He will be your light when the way has grown dim
Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him
He will guide you, walk beside you
Just trust in Him.

When we cannot see why
A problem must arise
Jesus knows the end will make it
Worth our flooded eyes
He works each circumstance together
As part of His wise plan
He only asks we trust Him fully
And, by His grace, we can

Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him
He will be your light when the way has grown dim
Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him
He will guide you, walk beside you
Just trust in Him.

Things and people change
Though we wish they’d stay the same
Jesus is the only one
Who doesn’t ever change
He’s always there to lead and guide us
Be our faithful friend
His love can never, ever fail
He’ll be with us to the end!

So rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him
He will be your light when the way has grown dim
Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him
He will guide you, walk beside you
Just trust in Him.

Written January 2005