This morning, I was singing worship songs and one came to mind that we used to sing at youth group in the nineties. It’s called Refiner’s Fire and says this:
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, and precious silver.
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold.
Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire
Is to be holy, set apart for you Lord.
I choose to be holy, set apart for you, my master
Ready to do your will.
I had one of those holy moments with this song when I heard it for the first time. I was on a mission trip to Los Angeles and the big group I was with was crowded in a little room, singing this song together before we went out to minister to the homeless on skid row.
Something changed in my heart when I sang this song, and to this day, every time I hear it, I remember that moment. I was completely aware of God’s presence and I meant every word. I truly desired to be holy, set apart, and ready to do God’s will. I understood the implications of the refiner’s fire to purify the gold and silver and thought… bring it on. Yes, please.
If I could use a word to describe my heart at that moment, it would be submission. Total submission to whatever God had to do to make me holy. I didn’t just accept this idea… I longed for it. I wanted to be set apart for the Lord more than anything else.
I don’t think I actually realized until today that this moment was one of my big moments in my walk with God. Until this morning, it was just a memory.
Today, for the first time, it really hit me. Back when I was 15 and full of zeal and the pure faith of a child, I had begged God to refine me.
Oh, if I had any clue what that fire was going to be like, I might have gone running from the room. At 15, I had already faced my share of trials and felt I could endure just about anything to come with God on my side.
I had no idea.
I have to wonder, if I knew then what I was really asking for, would my desire have been quite as strong? I think it would have been, thanks to that pure, untarnished faith that I had.
But I don’t think that I really could have comprehended how living every day in pain would change me. How losing relationships with loved ones would change me. How having my hopes absolutely crushed would change me. How grief would change me.
And I have to ask myself now, have I allowed these things to refine me? Have I become more set apart because of them? Am I still willing to submit to whatever it takes?
The answers don’t come so easily anymore.
My heart still longs to be holy, but I have more weariness and less zeal about what God may require of me.
I long to have that pure, untarnished faith again.
But maybe part of growing in the Lord is knowing that what is to come might just knock you over —and, yes, feeling weary at the thought of it—but to know and to keep holding on?
Maybe that’s enough.
Maybe that world worn, fire tested, older and wiser faith is just as beautiful as the pure, unrefined heart that doesn’t know what’s coming.
Maybe, all those years ago, I was right to long for this.
And maybe, in this moment anyway, I log for it still. To be holy, set apart. To do His will. No matter what it takes.