But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
For months, the purification of the Levites has rested over me. For 18 months, almost to the day, I have lamented my wandering through the wilderness. God leads me gently through my lessons in stages, ensuring that I have enough discernment to move ahead before He sheds more light. You see, for me the wilderness was never the point, only a process. I though surrendering was my destination, but it wasn’t. I believed confessing my brokenness was the point, but it was only the beginning.
I no longer wander through the wilderness.
For now I am in the Crucible.
I shall not move until refined,
making acceptable offerings to the Lord.
The third chapter of Malachi speaks of the Levites being purified by fire, "that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Kathryn Schifferdecker, writing in her commentary on Malachi 3, cautions us that purification is not to be taken lightly.
…we are helpless to clean ourselves. Enter the refiner of gold and the washer of clothes, to do the cleaning for us.
It is not an easy process, of course. There is pain involved in refining and cleansing. There is pain involved in dying and rising. But it is a process that is designed for our good, for our well-being, to prepare us for the coming of the Lord. God comes into our midst as Emmanuel, comes to destroy the evil in us and in the world, comes to draw us out of death into life. And though that is an alarming prospect, it is also one that should fill us with great joy.
Everything in my life that came before was designed to get me here, into this place, into right position. And here takes time. So, lest I desire to flee these difficult lessons and seek instead comfort, I find solace in the words of Ezekiel 34:25, where my Father promises that
I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they my live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.
I don’t need to escape the wilderness to seek comfort. The Comforter has prepared my way, making soft pillows of the stones in my wilderness if necessary. I am Jeremiah’s tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:8). I shall not move.
My word for 2014 is