Refining Rags

I had a moment this past weekend when something was mentioned that would have previously made my heart scream inside “Oh, how I wish I were doing that.”

But instead, I felt utter peace.  And joy.  Joy because of what God is doing in that person’s life and ministry and joy and peace because of what God is doing in mine and Zane’s lives.

^ I struggle with contentment.  I do.  I struggle with wanting to say “yes” to everything and to DO MORE.  Not because I necessarily think I can change the world.  And not because I naively think that my Lord *needs* me to help Him in where He is working.

But I honestly have this passion inside me that if God is moving in someone’s life or ministry, I want to witness it.  I want to be a part of it…..  oh dear, dare I say that…selfishly…it feels good when someone notices all the “good things” I’m doing and lavishes me with praises.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like dirty rags.” Isaiah 64:6

I have a lot of dirty rags people.

I have a lot of things that I “do” and in the process, I steal glory from God.  And momentarily, feel good about it.

I don’t want to be who I am.  I want to be who God wants me to be.  Who God calls me to be.  And I’ve struggled and struggled with this for my whole life.  I’m sure I will continue to struggle.  Because being a Christian and following the Lord means wrestling with the deceitfulness of my heart and surrendering to the Lord’s call on my life.

I didn’t make myself with a purpose.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

I am His workmanship.  I am created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them.

I am His.  Made by Him.  And He has purposes for me to do.

“When did I forget that He has always been King?  I try to take my life right out of the hands of GOD!  How could I make Him so small when He’s the One who holds it all?”

This all just ties into the joy and peace I’ve felt…as God has been refining me.

We became something that I have said MANY times I’d never be.  Then, my heart changed and I *longed to be* that which I didn’t want to be….

And that is NOT my doing.  That is God.  That is all God.

It wasn’t too many years ago that I was SURE of a few things: 1) I was going to adopt. 2) I was never going to be a foster parent.

I was so transfixed on how I wanted our family to look….how I had envisioned our family looking….that I had designed my plans and my purposes for not just my life, but for Zane’s life.

I remember like it was yesterday, the Lord’s refining fire on my heart regarding domestic adoption.  I was embarrassed by the categories I had assigned to orphan care and am thankful that God was gracious in His humbling of me.

I also remember my heart’s response in previous years when people would ask why we don’t foster.  So when I started thinking about it, and then when Zane started thinking about it, I knew God was moving.  There are just some things that we KNOW we wouldn’t decide to do on our very own.  And for as much as I love talking about adoption and foster care and everything.that.goes.with.those.topics, me actually being a foster parent?  God got me here.  God got Zane here.

Period.

And fostering requires leaning on God and allowing Him to pour His love and care through us into every child that He brings to our door.

This is a journey of God’s work in our lives…where He has brought us, what He will teach us, and ultimately, who He will allow us to be Jesus to.  Even blogging about this is humbling…that God would create us for His glory, for His purposes, that He prepared for us long ago.  We are His workmanship.  And this piece of clay that I am is continually being molded by it’s Maker.

“If the stars were made to worship so will I.
If creation sings Your praises so will I.
If it all reveals Your nature so will I.
If creation still obeys You so will I.
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I.
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I.
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I.
If the wind goes where You send it so will I.
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I.
If the sum of all my praises still fall shy, then I’ll sing again 100 billion times.
God of creation, You chased down my heart through all of my failure and pride.
On a hill You created, the Light of the World abandoned in darkness to die.
And as You speak, 100 billion failures disappear, where You lost Your life so I could find it here.
If You left the grave behind You so will I.
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done.
Every part designed in a work of art called love.
If You gladly chose surrender so will I.
If You gave Your life to love them so will I.
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.”

Something beautiful is happening.  God is calling me to let my words be true.  To not speak in vain.  If I claim Jesus is my Lord, then I am to surrender to Him, follow Him, love like Him, serve like Him.  And find my Peace and Joy in Him.

He will redeem and refine the darkest shadows of my heart.  He is able to take my dirty rags and cover them in His grace and mercy…and still *choose* to use me.  To keep changing me.  To keep humbling me.  He is strong enough to hear me say “I will never” to something that He just might have for me, and He is patient enough to deal with my stubbornness as I wrestle with what my heart wants vs. what He wants.

He is loving enough to call me to die to self that I may live in Him.

He is Holy enough to not let me remain in my dirty rags before Him while blindly believing my rags are good, but rather He refines me…and prunes me…and reminds me that He is good.  And apart from Him, I am nothing.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5

By God’s grace, Zane and I were certified to be foster parents the end of July.
Two weeks ago, we received our first ’emergency respite placement.’
Today, and every day, the phone could ring for us to open our home to another child, to love and be Jesus to a complete stranger, to live the words we say, to be who God calls us to be.

This is the beginning of a ‘new-to-us’ journey.  Yet one that God saw coming even when I was saying, “I will never…”

 

*song lyrics from “So will I” by Hillsong and “King of the World” by Natalie Grant.

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