August 20th, 2014
A famous song we all know says Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I think we can all agree that diamonds are quite lovely. They truly have a way to draw our eyes to them when we see them worn. They are precious, they are rare, but they take time and intense conditions to form. They didn’t just become….there was a process. The Natural History Museum states : “Diamonds are crystals of pure carbon that form under crushing pressures and intense heat.” It didn’t happen overnight- time, pressure, heat, and waiting for someone to unearth them. Or course when they are found- they are in their rough form. A rock with rough edges, dirty from hundreds of years hidden in the dark depths of the earth. A process….
I often put such high standards on myself each day. Comparison is a HUGE issue for me. Holding my life up to others around me and not thinking I’m as important or talented or pretty or…you fill in the blank. It is tiring. We struggle with feeling like we are not enough. We look at Proverbs 31 and sigh. Oh how I wish I was there!!! The woman who has it all together. The woman whose kids are all well-behaved, the woman who is able to juggle work, home, and relationships. The women who is healthy, and fit, and well dressed. The woman who is praised. Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others?…..Crushing pressures and intense heat.
Or there may be difficulties and stressors that you may be facing that really just knock the wind out of you. Finances, a lost job, and kid that is struggling, your marriage hanging by a thread. Each second, each minute enduring through this feels like an eternity. The pressure weighing down on you where you feel like you just can’t breathe. You want to run to be out from under it. When you place your head on the pillow each night- sleep doesn’t come easily. We end up crawling through the day- hoping to just make it through yearning for heaven so the striving and pain will cease. I get it. I’ve been there. I’m there now. ….Crushing pressures and intense heat.
I read something recently that hit me right smack between the eyes. It floored me. So simple- so profound. It is from Oswald Chambers- My Utmost For His Highest. Chamber says:
We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end….If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working toward a particular finish; His end is the process- that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, jus the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. God’s training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future….
When we shift our gaze from just looking to the horizon praying for the end of that “crushing pressure and intense heat” and we look to Jesus who is walking on the water right beside us- we can’t help but be changed. We may still have fear, or doubt, or confusion…but the Lord Jesus is there in the midst of it all holding His arms out wide to not only to help us through it but to just be there with us with the storm whirling around us.
Oswald Chambers continues:
God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on water on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.
So how are you doing? Are you able to see Christ walking beside you in the chaos of your life? Are you allowing this crushing pressure and intense heat to change you? Or are you avoiding difficulties or pretending they are not there? Are you wrestling for control? Are these trials precious- embracing them with quiet hope for God’s good or are you wishing and yearning that the the Lord would take them away? It’s funny- all Jesus told Peter to do was to come out of the safety of the boat and join him in the storm. That’s it. To join him. Do the impossible- lay down our control. Submit to the urge to argue about how impossible things look. I would have probably tried to find some sort of floatation device in the boat to tie around me before taking that first step out into the water.
Can I take it a step further? We are the bearers of light in this dark world. Just as I mentioned in my last entry- we need to reflect the Lord daily to a world that is crying out for help. Can you imagine what it would be like to be in the midst of the storms of life alone? The world does not want to see a manufactured false “finished product”. They can see right through it. We aren’t finished- we aren’t complete- we don’t have it all together. Stop trying to project that to those around you. That isn’t being real- it doesn’t further the kingdom. We need to be transparent in the process. We need to show God’s power changing us. Not to have a tidied version of what we think we should be on the outside when we really are a hot mess underneath. Fear, doubt, confusion, weakness aren’t BAD in and of themselves- its human. It’s what we do with them that makes all the difference. When we surrender those weaknesses at the cross- we are laying down the right to ourselves. We need to strive each day to be more like Christ- but HE NEEDS TO CHANGE US. We need to lay down our control to self, lay down our expectations of what we think we need to become, and let the Creator of heaven and earth chisel and refine us. It isn’t our job. We will fail every time if we try to do that work ourselves. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill HIS good purpose!” Philippians 2:13
Being “strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” is to not show the world WE are strong….but that the Lord is our refuge and strength. In the process- who we turn to- speaks louder than anything else. Crushing pressures and intense heat are beautifying us. They are what softens our rough edges. They are what creates the beautiful facets of our lives that allow us to brilliantly display Christ’s glory. That is TRUE beauty. That is what draws the world to Jesus- seeing what he can do through ordinary, broken people. His love in the midst of our sin, his forgiveness, his grace, his guidance.
In the pressures of this life- the Lord has you right where you are supposed to be. It’s hard, it’s probably not what we thought the Christian journey would look like, and it’s easy to get discouraged and weighted down. Stop flailing in the water, stop trying to find a flotation device to secure you in the midst of the storm…rest in His care. Rest in His presence in the midst of the chaos. Trust that he will do a good work in your life- he will complete what he has already started. He will refine you and shine you up so the world will behold His glory. You are his treasure and he is not ashamed to show the world how much he loves you. You are chosen for his purpose. Let this crushing pressure and intense heat be a time where you are excited to see what He does in your life through it. Don’t be afraid to let others into your process. They need to see what He can do in their lives through what He is doing in yours.
Let me leave you with this:
I Peter1: 3-9 (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
OR from The Message
3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. 6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.