A few years ago, I spent a semester studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I prepared myself for the homesickness and culture shock that many experience. I braced myself by diving into the Word, seeking wisdom from my community of friends and family, and spending a ton of time in prayer with the Lord. I found myself drawn to bold, honest prayers that could only come from the Spirit.
I prayed that the Lord would take me, break me, and make me. I prayed not for a lighter load, but for a stronger back. I prayed that He would break me into pieces that would grow in the ground and produce deep roots and eternal fruit. I prayed that the Lord would fulfill His promise and "sit as a refiner of silver", putting me through the fire to burn away the things that hold me to the earth (Malachi 3:3). I prayed that He would trust me with a heavy cross and a steep hill to climb. I prayed to know what it means to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be merciful, to be pure in heart. I prayed that "the flames of affliction would bring forth sweetness until the holy, innermost part of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer" (L.B. Cowman).
"They say that springs of fresh sweet water well up amid the brine of salty seas; that the fairest alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountains passes; that the noblest psalms were the outcome of the profoundest agony of soul" (L.B. Cowman).
Only the Lord knew how true and earnest those words and prayers would come to be in my life. My time in Argentina was really difficult, but for different reasons that I initially anticipated. He blindsided me, hit me below the belt. I don't know why I'm surprised. I prayed countless bold prayers circling the desire to be made holy, to be made more in His image. I asked, I sought, and I knocked. He answered. Maybe not in the way I wanted Him to, but He did remain faithful to His promises.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” How true Your promises are, Jesus.
As a daughter of the Almighty, I cannot pick and choose what parts of my heart I want refined. It's all or nothing. He is gentle, but He is also fierce in His desire for our righteousness. Once you give your life to Christ, it is not your own. You take the chance of risking everything, because nothing is out of his reach. It all belongs to Him in the first place.
I am now preparing myself for another wild season of life. In about a month, I will start a new chapter in Bolivia for a year working for International Justice Mission. My heart is drawn back to those same bold prayers for refinement, but with more assurance now.
I now see with clarity that all those prayers I sent up to Him over those long months in Argentina were answered in the weeks and months to follow, in ways that I never fathomed, and will probably continue to be answered as time goes on. He was only refining me for the next season. And in this season, He will be refining me for the next.
This place in the flames, in the thick of rugged uncertainty— that's the place where I'm drawn in closest to Him. It's where I experience His complete provision and stand in reverence before a God who loves me enough to bring me to this place, but never to leave me alone. Instead, He walks with me. He tears down, only to build it up more magnificent than before. He takes away, only to make room for more extraordinary blessings. So I will continue praying those same prayers, but with even more confidence this time around.
I often struggle to see the entire forest. My human tendencies focus on each individual tree. But He's proven time and time again to me that I can hand it over to Him, because the truth is, not only can He see the forest, He created it. I ask questions of answers that were already written at the beginning of time. I seek things that were already redeemed when a veil was torn 2,000 years ago. And I knock on a door of a master craftsman's workshop, not realizing that He carved that very door that I will walk through. We may not understand the wonder of His trade, especially the deepest carvings, but we must know that it is a good and beautiful thing.
- Katy // @katethegrate_ful_