I'm not sure how old I was when I decided I needed to know what the fire's job actually was but I do remember asking. The answer? It was to burn up the underbrush and anything that would drain nutrients from the ground that would otherwise be used by the blueberries. Also, it would burn up anything that was taller than the blueberry plants so that the blueberries would receive the most sunshine - that's what made the fruit sweet. But most of all, it prepared the blueberry plants to go into a state of rest so they would not produce the following year. Looking back, I realized it was the field that went through the fire and was allowed to rest a season that produced not only the best tasting, juiciest fruit but, produced abundant fruit!
I know I'm not the only one that ever prayed this prayer, "Dear God, I want to be more like Jesus. Please God, remove from me anything that is not like Jesus. Cleanse me. Help me to love and have compassion like Jesus did."
Well, don't you know that God does answer prayers? You just asked Him to make some changes in your life so what do you think He's going to do?
Job 23:10 states:
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Strange Job should mention "gold". At one point in my life, I worked as a jewelry repair person. I also did some custom design. This allowed me to work a lot with gold and silver. I know the process precious metals must go through to become 14k, 24k, or in the case of silver, sterling. When melting the metal down there is a certain temperature each metal must reach before it begins to melt. The purity of the precious metal depends on how much of the other metals (such as nickel), through precise, direct and controlled flame, come floating to the top and are removed or scraped off during the melting process. This is called "removing the dross." Too hot and the metal may be ruined. Too cool, and the unwanted elements in the metal will remain within the metal and not be in position to be removed.
There was a time, not too long ago, that I asked God to help me with my love walk. Don't you know, He started putting people around me that were very difficult for me to love. Now, why would He do that? Here I am, trying to improve my love walk and He thrusts me into the mist of people I didn't want to love! I found out that in order to remove the dross from inside of me, it first had to come to the surface so it could be dealt with and removed. What better way to do that than to put me with people I did not want to show love to?
Isaiah 1:25 explains this further:
I will turn My hand against you, And thoroughly purge away your dross, And take away all your alloy.
Alloy represents those undesired elements which keep us from being pure. Anything added that serves to reduce quality or purity. Dross is waste matter, that of little value. Let's be real and call it what it is. FLESH! There has to be a situation or circumstance, a fire lit under us, to cause these deep, hidden things to come to the surface. Too many times, when things begin to happen in our lives that are not to our liking, we begin to rebuke the devil. We think we are under some type of demonic attack. If we would just get quiet before the Lord and ask Him, "Lord, what is this? Is this You?" We may be surprised at the answer we get. I believe 9 times out of 10, we would find that what goes on in our lives is actually in answer to our prayers for God to purify us, cleanse us and help us to be more like Jesus. Well??
You say that what you're going through is more than your love walk being tested. You are really going through a fiery trial. Look at Isaiah 48:10:
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
The refining process takes much heat. Let's look at the word "affliction." Most of us who were brought up in "church" were taught that affliction meant sickness or disease. Not so. In Strong's Complete Dictionary of Bible Words "affliction" is described as trouble, to press or to distress, pressure, to cramp, fracture, hardship, suffering, maltreatment or to throw into disorder! Wow! That describes most of my life, especially the "throw into disorder." So when you find yourself in trouble, in distress, under pressure, cramped, in hardship, suffering, thrown into disorder, etc., ask yourself, "Is this God working on me?" I'd be interested in the answer you get.
Zechariah 13:9 states:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, 'This is My people';
And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' "
I know at times it seems impossible. God only knows how many impossible situations I have been in. But He is always there and will bring you through. But you say, "He says He will bring the one-third through the fire." I believe the one-third are those who allow God to complete the work He is doing in them and stay focused on Him rather than the circumstance they are going through. The others? They are the ones who gave up.
You ask, "Why would God allow this to happen to me?" Keep reading.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the LORD
An offering in righteousness.
There is your answer. God sits as the refiner so that we may be purified so we may be in position to offer Him an offering in righteousness.
Let's look at the definition of purify (purification, purity). To be pure or to be purified means to -
Be free from anything of a different, inferior or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter (that which is irrelevant, or external matter, not belonging to or not pertinent) to be free from foreign or inappropriate elements, BEING THAT AND NOTHING ELSE. (Emphasis mine). Webster's.
In Esther 2, we read:
8 So it was, when the king's command and decree were heard, and when many young women were gathered at Shushan the citadel, under the custody of Hegai, that Esther also was taken to the king's palace, into the care of Hegai the custodian of the women.
. . .
9 Now the young woman pleased him, and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance. Then seven choice maidservants were provided for her from the king's palace, and he moved her and her maidservants to the best place in the house of the women.
. . .
12 Each young woman's turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months' preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.
13 Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women's quarters to the king's palace. (New King James Version)
Verses 9 and 12 in the King James Version read:
9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.
. . .
12 Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;).
Whereas the New King James Bible uses the word "preparation" (a process to put in a proper condition), the King James Bible uses the word "purification". The oils and sweet odours were for the purpose of cleansing the body - for removing the "smell of the world", to disinfect and to soften the skin and hair, so that the body retained a "royal" fragrance. We must come out of this preparation time with pure hearts and pure motives. Our motive and focus must be Jesus and not ourselves.
The Word says in Hebrews 12:29, "For our God is a consuming fire."
I like the way Hebrews 12:28-29 is stated in The Message translation:
For God is not an indifferent bystander. He is actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!
In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist says, ". . . but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Personally, I believe the fire of God, this baptism of fire, is two-fold. First it comes to purify, to burn up everything that is not like God, secondly, to empower. We desire to operate in signs, wonders and miracles but we do not want to submit to the fire of God. The reason we are not operating in signs, wonders and miracles as Jesus or the apostles did is because we are not holy! There, I said it. The "H" word! There is a level of holiness, I believe, we must attain before God will truly entrust us with this level of power and anointing. And, one of the biggest problems in the Church today is lack of compassion and the "true" love of God.
Jesus was moved with compassion. He had what I call "heart-wrenching" compassion. He literally felt the pain and suffering of the people. He had no choice but to heal the sick and cast out demons. He felt their infirmities! Most Christians today lack this level of love and compassion for people. I believe that only when we allow the fire of God to purge us and we become conformed to the image of Jesus, (by image I mean - nature, character, thought, word and deed) and walk in holiness, we will not do the greater works Jesus talked about.
Now, that being said, God is shaking everything that can be shaken and only that which cannot be shaken will stand! God is the fire, He is a Spirit of Burning. He is the one who blows on the coals. He is the one who consumes all that is unlike Him. It is up to Him how hot the fire gets. He is the one who does the purifying so that the dross and alloy, the unwanted things, the impurities in our lives may be removed, if you allow Him.