AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
Every soul’s journey is unique. This means that you are not predestined to follow in the footsteps of any soul around you. When you’re not in a brutal stage of refinement and you know souls who are, it’s easy to feel unnerved. When you read a bunch of material about horrific things that God puts other souls through on this earth, it arms Satan with lots of new material to torment you with. This is why we recommend that you do not read material about refinement on this site unless you can personally identify with the struggle we’re discussing. There’s no point in helping your enemies. Anytime you feel your fear levels rising as you read, stop and move on to a different topic. When you are walking in alignment with Him, God is never going to tell you to anticipate horrible trials in your future.
Now then, for those of you who are going through the trenches of refinement, let’s get into it. In Understanding Refinement: Why is God being so mean?, we talked about how there are times when God will start intentionally spiking your pain levels. He keeps enticing you to really want or care about something, only to then rip it out of your grasp. You end up feeling like your heart is being broken over and over again. It’s horrific, and your natural defense is to try to emotionally shutdown. No hope means no disappointments. But of course this is a miserable existence. You walk around like a zombie, feeling internally gutted. You refuse to bond with anyone or anything. Life becomes a meaningless routine. You certainly have nothing to say to God, so your prayer life is a joke. If you try to really talk to Him, you’ll just reconnect yourself to those intense emotions you’re trying so hard to avoid, so forget it. You’re like Job, sitting on the ash heap in misery, but without all the passionate arguing. What’s the point in talking about it? God is huge—you can’t make Him back off. There doesn’t seem to be much point in anything when God drives you into this numbed out state only to have the days drag on and on. From the human perspective, this is a very miserable existence. But now let’s look at the Divine perspective.
Spiritual refinement is about God strengthening His bond with you. What a crock, right? How can this kind of misery possibly bring you closer to God? Well, there are a couple of key things that this is accomplishing for you. These things won’t seem very exciting right now because you’re fried, and nothing is exciting when you’re fried. But later on, you are going to be reaping major benefits for having gone through this.
What does submission that is pleasing to God look like? Does it look like eyes filled with fiery determination and a smiling mouth declaring, “Have Your way in me”? What does loyalty to God sound like? Does it produce happy tones of voice and cause endless praise to fall from our lips? We think it does. We think that if we were authentically sold out to God, we’d be externally enthusiastic about Him and emotionally up. This is a natural misconception that comes from a lifetime of relying on our earthsuit to interpret reality for us. But in order to gain deep communion with God, we must learn how to base our trust on facts instead of feelings, and we must learn how to distinguish soul from flesh. When you’re moving through your days as a burned out, bitter shell, you really aren’t going to look like your definition of a Christian who is pleasing in God’s sight. But this is where we need to back up and remember how you got here. Have you permanently surrendered to God? Did you ever ask Him to have His total way in your life or to make you pleasing in His sight no matter what? Total submission is what pleases God, and if you EVER asked Him to take over your life and make you all that He wants you to be, then your soul is VERY pleasing in His sight, regardless of what kind of huff your earthsuit is in.
Serious Christians trust God a whole lot more than they realize. When you’re burned out and bitter, it’s easy to fear that you’ve lost your grip on your spiritual dedication. It’s easy to feel like you and God are slowly drifting apart from each other and that you just can’t scrape up the desire to return to Him because you know He’ll just hurt you more. And yet the reality is that even in the black hole of the valley, your trust in God is far greater than you think. Once again, the problem lies in the fact that you’re using your emotions as a spiritual gage. If you hate God, you can’t be devoted to Him, right? Wrong. Who upsets you most in this world: strangers or the people you dearly love? When your soul is deeply bonded to God, you’re going to experience some very intense emotional storms in your relationship with Him. But even when it feels like your soul is boiling with rage over what a creep He is, an underlying foundation of rock solid trust is going to keep pushing you forward. It takes time to learn to recognize that trust. First of all, you don’t believe it’s there. Second, you can’t fathom how it could have got there in the midst of all this anger, hurt, and resistance. Ah, but this is the irony of refinement—it is by breaking and shattering us that God builds us up. He is the One who has forged that trust your soul is now standing on so relentlessly. At the same time that He is tearing you down, He is whispering confirmations to your soul that your conscious mind is unaware of. But every now and then, a glimpse of progress surfaces as you find yourself feeling hopeless and determined at the same time. You hear yourself saying that God is all you want at the same time that your heart is churning with bitter hate. Of course Satan tries to tell you that you’re just being a hypocrite, and that your devoted words are nothing more than mechanical platitudes from your more dedicated years. But no, this isn’t what is happening. Your soul is expressing it’s true desires amid the turmoil of your flesh, and much to your surprise, your soul won’t give it up. This is because God has forged an unbreakable bond between you and Him—one that nothing can destroy. No matter how hard you kick against Him, no matter how many doors you slam and lock in His face, no matter how icy you become, the two of you are tangled up in a mutual embrace and no one is letting go. This is what happens when we give our entire selves over to God, but we just can’t see it at first. We feel like an unbreakable bond is nothing more than wishful thinking, and we’re afraid to try and stand on it because it seems to be constantly disproven by the terrible pits we go through. Yet we must remember that all of the bitterness, anger, and fear we go through during refinement is a result of God uprooting our false beliefs about Him. The more He digs these things up and out, the more secure our trust becomes. Later on, when we look back over this zombie period and realize that the whole time our souls were safe in God’s embrace, we’ll learn to see reality in a more accurate light. Feeling flat about our relationship with God doesn’t mean that it is flat. Feeling like God is far away doesn’t mean that He isn’t right there. Feeling like we’re stagnating doesn’t mean that we’re not progressing.
ELIMINATING THE FEAR OF REBELLION
Spiritual refinement is like spiritual surgery—it’s something God must do to you which you play a very limited role in. Just as you can’t help a human surgeon operate on your own heart, you can’t help God speed up the process of refinement. But you can’t slow Him down, either. Once you fully surrender yourself into God’s hands, He is going to have His total way with you. There will be times when He pushes you to do something that you absolutely cannot do, such as sign up for another round of pain. In the burnout stage of refinement, we often find ourselves hitting refusal with God’s program, and when we sense Him leading us towards another trap of heartache, we run in the opposite direction. Good. Let’s get that fearful possibility of spiritual rebellion out on the table and learn about how much power that concept doesn’t have in a fully surrendered life.
To grow totally confident in your relationship with God, you have to be able to KNOW that He is the One keeping this thing together and that He won’t let you get in His way. If God is going to let your human limitations stop His show, you’re doomed. There’s no way you can ever get to Heaven and qualify for the prize of God’s total satisfaction unless He is faithful to you in every area: faithful to His promise to forgive your sins, faithful to override your will when it conflicts with His, faithful to empower you to carry out the assignments He gives you, faithful to give you understanding about how to please Him, and faithful to fill your heart with love for Him. But the glorious news is that God IS faithful to you, and when you call on Him to make you all that He wants you to be, HE WILL NOT FAIL YOU. To give you reassuring evidence of this, He might put you through a season in which you see yourself refusing to give Him what He wants because you find His program too hideous to subject yourself to anymore. This is alright. You can’t stop God. But every serious Christian secretly fears that they can somehow get in God’s way, and that fear needs to be put to rest. With God, the way out is always through, so He creates situations in which our fears can appear to be totally confirmed before He shatters them like a man striking a crystal figurine with a hammer. By first allowing our fears to look confirmed before He disproves them, God kills them at their roots. He doesn’t want you to spend your whole life anxiously fearing that you might one day go astray, so He’s going to drive you to your definition of going astray and then show you that you really haven’t gone anywhere at all. You are still locked in His grip and He is still beaming with delight over your soul. This is how it is when we fully surrender to God—we gain promises and treasures that those who hold back simply cannot claim. When you give your entire self to God, He rewards you with His highest commendation. It is impossible to fall away when God is the One keeping you faithful. It is impossible to come up short when you have asked Him to have His total way in your life. So you do not have to fear the bitter, burned out, numbed out trenches of refinement. Your emotional enthusiasm is not defining the quality of your bond with God. Your willingness to cooperate with His monstrous methods is not determining your rate of progress. God is the One controlling every aspect of this surgery, and He isn’t going to keep you here one second longer than is necessary. You are in good hands, and you will not fail to come out of this with flying colors.