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A Refiner's Fire

by Christi Estes

"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." Malachi 3:2b, 3-4 
 
The last seven years have been years of refining for me.  God is our refiner. He prepares His people for useful service by taking them from rough stones, purifying them and making them into gold and silver. Sometimes, it takes high levels of heat to completely rid us of our rough edges and sometimes just the warmth of a sunny day. Whatever the case, when He is finished with us, we are always better for it, shining in His light. 
 
I'm a fairly intelligent person. I have always had a gift for spelling well, and what I lack in common sense, God has made up for in book sense. Many things do not come naturally to me, but if I study them long and hard enough, I can get the job done. Over the years I have become very self-sufficient and can take control of and handle most situations. I am a "get 'er done" kind of girl. However, along with these attributes come the problems. Pride, self-reliance, disdain for other's perceived shortcomings, disappointment in the decisions of others if they aren't like my own, rigidness to change and even feelings of superiority. Certainly not the attributes desirable by our loving God, or anyone else for that matter! 
 
It has only been over the last seven years that I have begun to see the error of my ways. And really only over the last three years that I have begun to surrender, allowing God to have His way with me. Breaking down my pride, my issues with control and shaping me into a person more interested in being His servant than a dictator. Although everyday isn't a success, it's a goal for me to stay fully connected to Him, shaped by His loving hands. So what made the change, you ask? 
 
The answer is simple and complex and the same time. As we all know, life has a way of showing us that we aren't nearly as smart and in control as we thought we were. So this is certainly one of the reasons. But the main reason I have surrendered to Him is because He has opened my eyes to grace and humility through my daughter Sara Ashley, who struggles with the life challenges of adhd and dyslexia, and to the many children and families I continue to meet who also live with learning differences and other special needs.

Eleven years ago I was blessed by the birth of my perfect and beautiful daughter. Four years later, we learned of her life challenges. Over these last seven years, God has gently and lovingly taught me of His plans for her life and they are infinitely more than my humanness could ever imagine or think (Ephesians 3:20). He has also taught me through other children who live with special needs. As I watch these kids handle life on a daily basis, with struggles as well as triumphs, I notice that, despite their learning differences and challenges, their attitudes overwhelmingly remain positive. Their contributions to this world are far greater than correct spelling and book smarts. I have been humbled through my interactions with them. Their wonder of the world around them, their kindness to others, their ability to see things with a different perspective, and their loving spirits have taught me that life is about so much more than high marks, accolades, and worldly success. These are the traits that Jesus desires to have in His disciples and I can certainly take a lesson from these children. He has also taught me that His purposes for them are more than we realize. In John 9 we learn of a boy who was born blind. Assuming that his afflictions were the result of sin, the disciples asked Jesus, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus' answer was this: “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do” (The Message).

Indeed, look for what God can do! He can make a blind man see, reveal wisdom through a child and He can even turn a sinner like me into someone who desires to fully serve Him. God is refining me, day by day, into a mold that is pleasing to Him. And I am wax in His hands.

This guest post submitted by Christi Estes.  Christi can be found sharing her reflections on God’s blessings for and through children who face life challenges at www.journeyofunexpectedgifts.blogspot.com.