Have you ever gotten to the gate to board a plane only to realize the flight had been delayed for hours?
On a recent trip, my flight got delayed 3.5 hours because of maintenance on the aircraft. Those in charge with the airline did not feel confident in the broken mechanisms so they advised us passengers to wait and put us on the next plane going to our destination. Exhausted from the wait and scrambling through the line to retrieve my boarding pass to enter the newly assigned plane, I could not locate where my seat number was.
I showed my pass and asked the flight attendant, “Ma’am, can you tell me what my seat number is?”
She graciously replied, “Oh! Someone has sat in your seat. Go to row 4. I’m going to put you in first class.”
I could not help but soak in the awesomeness of the blessing I had just received. I mean, leg room, personal blanket, and snack of my choice that did not include pretzels or peanuts. I was eating it up and bragging to my friends about what I had just experienced. However, as I sat waiting for the plane to take off, the Holy Spirit overcame me so sweetly.
All I could hear in my spirit was, “He wants to take you from broken places.”
Earlier that morning, James chapter 1 had been on my mind, particularly verses 2-4.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 (KJV)
To be honest, when these verses first came to my mind, I immediately cringed. The fact is that sometimes the trial is long and seemingly unbearable. Often dark and bleak, but God never intends for the outcome to be fruitless.
I believe that as you have read this blog, your places of brokenness have been apparent in your mind. Do not hold back from God. Surrender those pieces of your heart. Believe that your Savior endured the Cross to give you life and allowance for the Holy Spirit to transform the fragments.
The uncomfortable, sometimes excruciating, afflictions are inevitable. Maybe you have been waiting a long time. Maybe you have experienced unthinkable tragedy. Maybe you have let doubt and fear cloud your faith. Maybe there is unrelenting sin in your life. Whatever it is, God wants to take you from those broken places. To move from them, you must walk in faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you through each trial. Look to Him, and you will see how He brings you through each time. Spiritual endurance will build in your heart as the image of the King sharpens until that glorious day you behold Him in completion. Perfect and entire, wanting nothing but Him.
Count it all joy! Along the journey, you will turn around and see the faithfulness of God gleaming. You may even buy an economy ticket one day and end up in priority seating just so He can use the experience as an opportunity to reveal more of Himself. Nevertheless, allow Him to fix the broken mechanisms in your heart so you can ride first class into the next season of life.
Did you know that to purify gold, you must heat it up to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the impurities to rise and solidify into pure gold? Crazy huh? 1800 degrees! I cannot even fathom anything reaching such temperatures. How amazing that when put through the fire, the gold remains in tact and only the impurities fall off and rise to be removed.
In almost all of my writings, I never try to hide or belittle the season I am currently walking in. With that being said, since my move out of state, just when I thought life could not get much more difficult, and hoping this move was me entering a season of rest and peace, there I was in the midst of what felt like a hurricane trying desperately to destroy me.
I stand knowing that I know my Father’s voice, and I know He sent me here. However, I was quickly losing sight of any idea of the purpose of this move, and quite honestly, I found myself slipping into bitterness wondering why I was still having to walk through such a hard time. I mean, haven’t I had enough?!
How often do you ask yourself that? How often do we feel tested by the flames only to feel like God is turning up the heat?
John 16:33 (NLT) says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
While in my secret place of prayer and crying out, God brought me to the book of Daniel and the story of three brave men who endured the fire in a very literal way. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego loved God fiercely and with hearts ablaze. They had a good life, good positions, and everything seemed to be going in their favor until King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree that at the sound of any musical instrument, everyone would be required to bow down and worship the golden image he created. If anyone refused, they were to be thrown into a fiery furnace to be burned alive.
This was these three men’s test. This is where it was up to them to either fight fire with fire or dance to the tune of the world’s song and forfeit their faith or trust in the One who had yet to abandon them. They chose the former. They refused to let the world’s song be music to their ears and they refused to bow to anyone who wasn’t the Lord Most High. One faithful decision left them to be consumed by the flames. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response…“If the God we serve wishes to save us, then so be it.” And into the fire they were thrown.
That sounds about right! How many times are we walking faithfully with our King, and it seems He is bringing on the heat? Sweet daughter, there is a purpose in this.
“Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!’”- Zechariah 2:5 (NLT)
The ending to the scriptural story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is this…God rescued them and protected them. The fire of God inside them overcame the fire they were thrown in.
How incredible of the God we serve! These men did not falter. They did not give in. They stood on the truths that their hearts burned for, and they fought King Nebuchadnezzar’s fire with the Blazing Son and prevailed! Amen!
If we stand on the promises that have, in the past, burned up every lie the enemy has thrown at us, God promises to be a wall of fire ALL around us, protecting us from any fiery dart the enemy wants to throw at us.
I leave you with a sweet story: I read years ago in New Day New You written by Joyce Meyer, the story shared was about a cute little teacup, shaped and formed in the potter’s hand perfectly, yet had it’s discomforts.
“A couple went into an antique shop and saw this BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT little tea cup sitting high on a shelf. And they fell in love with this teacup. As they were admiring this teacup, it began to talk to them. It said, “You know, I have not always been like this! There was a time when I was not attractive at all. You see there was a time in my life when I was just a hard lump of clay. And the master potter came along, and he picked me up and began to pat and reshape me; and I said,” STOP IT! What are you doing? THAT HURTS! Leave me alone! And he simply looked at me and said, “Not yet.” And then he put me on this wheel, and he began to spin me around, and around and around! And I got so dizzy and could hardly see where I was going anymore! I was losing it! Everything was spinning around and around, and I felt sick to my stomach. And I said; “LET ME OFF HERE!” and he said: “Not yet!”.
Finally, the day came when I had taken on another shape. All of that spinning around finally gave me another shape. All of that patting and molding and squeezing and pinching gave me another shape. And suddenly – he put me into this FURNACE! It is called the first firing. And ‘twas SO HOT in there! Oh, I could not believe how hot it was. I thought, “I can’t stand this! I’m going to DIE in here! ‘GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! Don’t you love me?? Why are you leaving me in here?’ You see, the oven door had glass in it and the master would just look in his eyes AND HE WOULDN’T LET ME OUT!! But he would just smile at me and say, ‘Not yet!!
FINALLY, the oven door opened, and he took me out – set me on a shelf and I thought, ‘Whew! Thank God that is over!’. Then he began to paint me all over with this stinky paint! Changing my color from gray to this pretty blue that I am now! And I said: ‘This stuff STINKS! It is choking me! I don’t like this smell! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!’ He would just say: ‘Not yet!’.
Then he put me back in a SECOND oven. It is called the second firing, and ‘twas TWICE as hot as the first oven! And I thought, ‘Now, I will DIE in here for sure! This is the end of me. This will finish me off! GET ME OUT OF HERE! I CAN’T STAND IT! I CAN’T STAND IT! Really – I am telling you – I can’t stand it! This is going to kill me! GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ And he would just look through that glass and say: ‘Not yet!’
Then one day the door finally opened – he took me out and he put me up here on this shelf to let me cool off. After I cooled off, one day he came by and he handed me this mirror and I looked at myself and I could not believe how BEAUTIFUL I was! I could not BELIEVE how I have CHANGED! Why, I did not look anything at all like that old gray clay that I started out to be!
Now, I am this beautiful, little, delicate teacup! And EVERYBODY wants me now! But there was a time in my life when NOBODY wanted me; NOBODY liked me; NOBODY paid any attention to me! They just kicked me around; walked on me. But now- I AM SPECIAL!”
If God is whispering to you, “Not yet,” know that His delicate hands have an intricate plan, and the final result will be more BEAUTIFUL than you could ever imagine.
Over the last year, almost every area of my life has been stretched, prodded, or flat out attacked – especially my faith. A few days ago I was watching my son play in his walker corner when I had a flashback. A few years ago my husband’s family decided to go to the beach together. On that day, the water was rough – not enough for red flags but enough that children did not leave the shallows. However, as adults, we ventured out to chest height and jumped into the tidal waves as they rolled in.
One time I did not jump soon enough, and the wave swept over me. Suddenly, I was tumbling under the water with no clue what was up or down. My feet found the ocean bottom, and I pushed up, gasping for air as soon as the next wave rolled in. I was immediately toppling under the water again desperately trying to find the surface for air. This happened two more times until finally my husband caught me and helped me stand. It was such a scary experience that I stayed in the shallows after that.
Where I am now in life feels a lot like that beach. As soon as I find my footing and catch my breath, a new wave is rolling in on top of me sending me spinning again. However, Jesus reminded me of something He did while here on earth.
Mark 4:35-41 chronicles the time when Jesus and His disciples were in rough waters because of a storm. Jesus spoke to the storm and said “Peace! Be still!” The winds and waves obeyed him and stopped. Jesus reminded me that He does not just calm physical storms, but He can calm the waves in our lives. If we listen to Him as He speaks through the Holy Spirit to us, “Peace! Be still!”, we will see the waves that were engulfing are now a soothing ripple. This is not to say that we will not have storms. Of course we will! There may be times in our lives that the winds and waves are so loud and big that you can’t hear the Lord’s still, small whisper of peace.
Another time in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 6:45-52), His disciples were in a boat rowing against the wind. This time, rather than calm the wind with His words, the Lord walked on top of the water. He invited Peter onto the water with Him, and as long as Peter kept His eyes on the Lord, He walked over the waves too. This is HUGE! In those times when we cannot hear Jesus speaking peace in our situation, we look to Him and trust Him for every step onto the waves.
In my life, that looks like this:
A problem arises. I see no possible solution. Anxiety swells. Rather than allowing it to topple over me I say, “I can’t see a way, but I trust you Lord. I know you have a plan, a purpose, and it is for my good.” Take a deep breath. Move forward with my life one step at a time.
My hope is that these words encourage you today. Whether you are in the storm of life or not, I pray that you keep your eyes focused on Him because walking on the water is a much bigger adventure than hiding in the shallows.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17