The following is an excerpt from my newsletter from April 30, 2003, while I was serving overseas as a missionary. I re-read it the other night as I was looking through old files (hunting, of course, for something completely unrelated). However, the lesson God was teaching me at the time seems so relevant to what I experienced this past month.
Isn't it crazy how I'm still struggling to learn the same lesson four years later! Yet, as I look back at what happened in that four years, the storm in my life that had been brewing for nearly a year at the time of this newsletter and then exploded with violent force just two months later, I realize how invaluable the insight in this newsletter was for me, and how it kept me deeply connected to God and confident of His presence through the darkest time of my life. Discovering that God truly wants to be not just my Savior or my God, but also my bosom friend created a new reality in me that continues to this day. What I said in that newsletter four years ago about God's desires for our relationship have now, four years later, become reality.
Earlier in this newsletter I discussed a cd-rom project I was putting together to be used for advocacy and mobilization by the various unreached people group teams working in my region. I was at the point in the project of rewriting, revising, refining and polishing. As errors or problems were uncovered by my proofreading teammates testing the cd, I became increasing frustrated and discouraged, struggling constantly with a worry that I would never get the cd-rom "right".
I have seen this process repeating itself in my walk with Christ lately, as He points out the inconsistencies, clutter and messiness of my heart, and works to move me from a woman of average character toward one of strength and godliness. I am so grateful for His deep love, and His longing to see me become who He knows I can be! But I have to tell ya, there are many days I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. And l often wonder if I’ll ever get it right.
In my failure and frustration, however, I have seen God pursue me with unbelievable abandon. The more time I spend with Him, the more I realize I’ve been missing the point of my refining fires for far too many years.
While He is very concerned about my character and desires to refine it; and while life isn’t ultimately about me and what I can “do” for God, what I have learned lately is that the ultimate purpose of the refining fires in my life is to draw me into a deeply intimate relationship with Him. He longs to be my most intimate companion, my bosom friend, as Anne Shirley would say; the first one I want to talk to in the morning and the last one I want to hear from at night, the first one I call when something amazing happens and the one I turn to when the unthinkable occurs. He is relentlessly pursuing me, in a way no hero in any romantic story could ever come close to! And He has made it clear He will never give up.
I admit, this all sounds so “me-centered” and writing this felt almost arrogant. But I have experienced the reality of it. Truthfully, I cannot fathom why the Awesome God of the Universe, who could have anything or anyone His heart desired, would choose me. But I am so grateful He has!