I used to think I didn’t get stressed out. Surprisingly, I rarely got stressed out. I laugh at that statement now. Two years ago I would see my friends cry in the library or skip meals because they were distressed, and I would ask myself, “Stress? Don’t know her”.
But now it’s two years later, and I can finally see God answering my repetitive prayer, “Refine me, Lord! I want you to remove my flaws and open my eyes!” I didn’t know how He was going to do it; maybe I’d just wake up one day without as much struggle…or with more struggle…
“For the Lord disciplines the one He loves…”
Simply put, the Lords answer is opportunity. I’ve had countless opportunities to lose my pride, hold my tongue, serve my friends or family, rely on God, seek Him at a deeper level, and so on. The first answer I felt Him tell me was to go to Africa. The opportunity to place my full trust in Him was through this missions trip; the opportunity to be refined was by enduring struggles that come along with this intimidating travel trip. How daunting! (You can read about my trip here!). Out of all the ways we can rely on the Lord, the way I was actually going to do it was through facing one of my biggest fears. He knows me best, that’s for sure.
Are you self-aware? How do you take constructive criticism? When I look back to my pre-teen and younger teen years, I can see just how unaware I was of anything happening around me or within me. Looking back to these past two years, I see how defensive I would become to any sort of confrontation. I was prideful and hardened, to say the least. I now (try to) think before I do; I pray in expectation; I speak with intention. I notice most mess-ups and I ask God to help me stray from making those mistakes again. I now have to learn to let God help me. I think one of my most-recited prayers is, “Lord, please help me have a soft heart and tough skin.” Because He knows I was the exact opposite; and when we don’t act in love and we get easily offended, we aren’t accepting of His correction.
“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”
Asking to become better isn’t usually a highly-practiced question. It becomes habit for us to take the easy way out when provided the option. The most realistic example I can think of is when a teacher says, “Class is optional next week, and I will have resources that can change your life!”, yet no one shows up. Let’s think logically for a second: as the student, you can either (1) skip class or (2) go to class! We know that there are pros and cons of both, but we also forget to consider the role this can play in our minds. When we skip a lesson that was deemed as valuable or even life-changing, we think we are too good for the lesson or that we have better things to do– even if that time is already blocked off on our weekly schedules! Now let’s think of this from a spiritual standpoint: as the human, you can either (1) dismiss what God says will bring you life, refine you, help you grow or (2) accept God’s teachings and seek Him to make you into a better disciple.
“Those who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.”
Just like in the classroom, asking questions isn’t a bad thing! Asking God to reveal His word to you or to open your eyes to what you can feel the Holy Spirit nudging at is a display of your curious character! Like a good educator, the Lord will lead you to the right answer, and you can bet your bottom it might be a struggle to get there– but without the fire, the gold is unrefined.
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people’, and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’.”
Where are you in your spiritual walk? Have you felt stagnant, stuck, or complacent for some time? Are you allowing the Spirit of God to lead you in even your day-to-day tasks? I encourage you to ask the Lord to see Him in a new way, keep your eyes peeled, and be expectant that He will place opportunity in your life to draw you closer to Him.
How can I be praying for you?