How Holy Do You Really Want to Be?
There is a poem I wrote a couple of decades ago, entitled Burn for You (poem posted at the end of this blog). It is a prayer of pleading and aspiration to be on holy fire for God, refined for His purposes. It was born out of a time of trial, and the Lord has pressed upon me the urge to pray it from time to time, generally just preceding a time of trial. It is as if He is preparing me to set my heart and mind on the refinement aspect of what is to come.
God brings these times of refinement into the lives of all of His beloved children. Hebrews 12 says that God disciplines those He loves and calls His children. When we run into hardship we too often wonder what we did wrong to deserve it, and while we’ve all done enough wrong to merit anything we suffer, if that is all we suspect as the cause of our difficulties, we‘ve missed the point. It’s actually when we’ve gone a long time without a sifting in our lives that we should question if we are in good standing with God, rather than when we face struggles. When trials come our question should not be, “Why me?” but “Why not me?”
God sends these refining times to bring to the surface and burn away the impurities in our lives, just as a crucible is used to do the same for silver and gold. We can be so blind to what is just beneath the surface in our lives, but He can see what is getting in the way of our growth and nearness to Him, so He designs the exact crucible and the perfect level of heat needed to raise those impurities up and purge them away.
For Abraham it was about surrendering his precious son, in order that God remained primary. For Joseph it was betrayal, servitude and false imprisonment which made him benevolent and just as a ruler and brother. For Job it was unfathomable loss and personal suffering, giving Him the opportunity to see and know God in ways he never dreamed possible. Yet, in every case, if we were to ask them in heaven today if the suffering was worth in in terms of their relationships with God and the ultimate outcome, we have no doubt of the answer. Hebrews 11 tells us that Moses chose not to indulge in the pleasures of sin for a short time, rather he kept his eyes focused on the eternal reward. Often our trials wean us from the temporal and give us eternal eyes.
This is important in the refining procedure, because while God designs the crucible and heat individually for each of our needs, we need to submit and obey in the process. We do have a choice in our attitude throughout the refinement. If we embrace the crucible and eagerly endure with its purpose in mind, we will come out like gold refined. If we chafe, resist, whine, rebel, pout or harden our heart, we will still have the pain, but not have the benefit. Even merely stoically enduring the trial does not reap the harvest of righteousness God has designed for us. We need yielded-ness and trust to truly benefit.
As I was think about all of this the title question came to mind. How holy do I really want to be? How much of my current refinement will I embrace with an eager desire for its holifying purposes? How much of the impurities that rise to the surface will I cast aside with total rejection, or will I still long for some things or attitudes and make excuses to indulge them a little longer? Can I gain Moses’ perspective and not coddle short term pleasures over eternal gain? Will I merely endure, and waste the fullness of what God has in mind for the experience?
It helps that my current One Year Bible Old Testament readings are in Leviticus. God is laying out for His people what pleases Him. There is a repeated refrain summoning them to discern between the common and the holy, and calling them out to be holy because He is holy. That challenge, that command from God has not changed this side of the cross. We may no longer follow the Law, but grace calls us to holiness every bit as much as the Law did. To diminish grace to a license to sin is to miss the point entirely—to miss it to the level that we may need a serious review of our salvation. To wink at our pet sins, to indulge, cherish, coddle, rationalize, or excuse them is to fail to understand how God views sin and to denigrate the price He paid to redeem us and make us holy as He is holy. If there are habits, attitudes, choices in our lives that we desire more than a holiness which pleases God, we need to do some solemn business with Him about that serious error in our understanding and judgment.
I know the heat in my crucible has not hit critical mass yet, and I am just depending on the Lord’s presence and strength as each day comes. But it is my desire to pursue the deepening holiness He offers in through refinement, so that His name should receive the glory. I have no illusions that I will come out of this perfected; there will be other crucibles in that ongoing process. But I am certain that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it in Christ Jesus, and that when I see Him, I will be as He is, for these are His promises. How about you? How holy do you really want to be? What are you willing to endure to know God’s complete work in you, and experience true holiness in your own life?
Burn For You
Burn for You, burn for You, burn for You,
Let the fire in my heart truly burn for You.
Breathe, Holy Spirit, ‘cross the coals of my heart,
Fan cooling embers to flame,
Renew in me passion like that from the start,
A fire that nothing can tame.
Burn for You, burn for You, burn for You,
Let the fire in my heart truly burn for You,
Consume all the dross and the chaff of my heart,
Refine me like silver or gold.
For holier purposes set me apart,
Let my ardor never grow cold.
Burn in me, burn in me, burn in me,
Holy Passion for God truly burn in me.
Let the flame from my heart on Your altar arise,
Lord, set my spirit ablaze!
Until that bright day when my soul to You flies
And on Your full glory I gaze,
Burn in me, burn in me, burn in me!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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