Lost in a cycle. Your purpose is promised, but not yet fulfilled.
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
There is a place that is all too familiar. You would recognize it if you saw it on a map. This is the place between where you were and where you are going. Depending on the length of time spent on the road, your patience and stamina might begin to wear thin.
I like to think of myself as a patient person. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt wherever possible; likewise, I am sure that many people would say the same of themselves. However, if you would really like to test your resolve, then try being stuck in traffic and late for work. We might have our best intentions to remain calm in stressful situations, but we all have our breaking points which vary from person to person. As varied as the breaking points will be, so too are the moments when you might cross them. As careful as we try to be, our breaking point comes when we least expect it; otherwise, we would do something different to prevent it.
The true character of a person will show up in unexpected moments. They are not pleasant, but necessary for the development of who we are as a person. The destination might be important, but the journey develops your character. It is the in-between where we are tested before going onto the next glory (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
I have recently gone through some training for software development adding to my understanding of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). Development testing is necessary to produce a product that is bug-free and reliable. Development testing should be kept in mind from the conception of an idea to the final technical drawings. Anyone can write a block of code or build a structure of any kind that will work in a perfect world; however, without product testing – the application, house, or playground equipment will be built more like a house of cards rather than a sturdy, dependable structure.
When you go through a test it is not for nothing. You have a purpose for which you are being proved. If you pass the test you are put into circulation to live out your days the way you were intended.
The in-between is a process. The in-between can be painful. Without the refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2-3) we would crack and break under the weight of normal wear and tear. In metallurgy, the refiner removes every impurity from any kind of metal. They can prove metal with fire at temperatures over 1000 degrees Celsius or more than 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The very high temperatures allow every impurity to come to the surface to be removed.
Considering this definition of what the refiner’s job entails we can determine what the more philosophical use of the language found in Hebrews 12 is considering.
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
We find that discipline is not pleasant for the moment, but it will produce a desirable end. Yet again, we can see the use of the language “our God is a consuming fire”. We are put to the test not because he is unloving. It is quite the opposite, we are put to the test so that we can stand on what is true. When we go through trial it prepares us for greater refining and more malleable uses.
As James puts it in his letter consider it “pure” joy when you fall into trials of many kinds because it is at this testing that your faith with produce perseverance (James 1:2-8). Let us choose not to shy away from what happens during the in-between. Instead, let us embrace the struggle so that what can be shaken will be done away, what cannot be shaken will remain, and what remains will lead us into perseverance not lacking anything.