Fire and Gold
**Once again I’m out of the office for another week but I wanted to provide you with some food for though by a good friend of mine named Pastor Brad Mann. I had the privilege of working Pastor Brad in my time at Westside Family Church as he serves as their Speedway Campus Pastor. He is an amazing man and I really hope that you enjoy what he has to say to you today.**
If you are like me you wonder why you have to endure times of struggle or strife? I mean, life should be easier as a Christ follower, right? Do you ever wonder why sometimes God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers the way you thought He should? I’ve been asking these questions a lot lately. Although, I am a firm believer that God has a purpose for every situation or circumstance and that He does answer every prayer we pray, I still wonder what in the world He is thinking most of the time!
Six years ago at the age of 28 I was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Not only was this a major surprise, the timing seemed way off to me. I had just been called into my first full-time ministry position and my wife was 6 months pregnant with our son. I mean, how could God allow this to happen? He knew that I had work to do. He knew I had a pregnant wife to care for, a little boy that was going to need a “daddy”, let alone ministry duties that needed to be tended to. What was He thinking? What was He trying to do?
Then, I recalled praying a dangerous prayer years and even months before the trial. It was a prayer, I prayed often. It was simply, “God, make me more like you. Make it less about me and more about you.” Not a bad prayer, right? You’d think with Him being God that He could just choose say the words and it would be done, right? Well, He could…but, He chose not to do that with me. He chose to use the struggle of that time to change my heart and give me a better perspective of the life He had given me. How could God change someone’s heart for the better in the midst of suffering? It’s a mystery to me, but He most certainly does. I’m reminded of what Job said in his Old Testament writings. One of my favorite verses is found in Chapter 23, verse 10 where Job says, “But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Gold? Gold is a good thing right? Gold is desirable and valuable, isn’t it? In my study of this passage of scripture, I also decided to research gold. Gold is one of the world’s finest resources and has one of the greatest values of all elements. When it is found raw, it does not have much value due to it’s impurities. However, when the goldsmith gets a hold of it, he puts it over an intense fire in order to draw out the impurities. This is known as the refining process. The key thing for the goldsmith to remember is to only keep the gold over the fire until he can see his reflection in the element. It is only after the refining process that the gold has its greatest value due to having the . I think this may be what Job was trying to say in his writings. In order for our lives to have the greatest value for His Kingdom, He has to draw out the impurities or sin in our lives.
Why does it have to work this way? I have no clue! I may never understand this side of heaven because my ways and my thoughts are not like His (Isaiah 55:9). However, I can experience a peace in the midst of any “fire” when I am truly resting in His promises for my life. Even as I write this, I am enduring yet another “fire”. Several months ago I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and will undergo chemotherapy treatments to try and rid my body of a disease. There have been times of confusion, uncertainty, anxiety and every other emotion that comes with a diagnosis like cancer. However, my faith remains in Him who is more than able to take care of my every need. My trust is in the one who has given me a peace that goes way beyond my understanding (Philippians 4:7).
I continue to rest in the promises He has revealed to me through this recent “fire”, but I also draw hope in what the Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter Chapter 4 as he spoke about our sufferings here on this earth. In verses 1 and 2 he says, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” My prayer is that this “fire” and every other “fire” I have to endure from here on out will burn away the “Me” so that He can be more clearly seen.