I was six years old when our house was struck by lightning and caught fire. We were out of state visiting family when it happened, and at the edges of my memory, I remember my parents getting the call and my knowing that something serious had happened. I remember my father leaving us to assess the damage while we stayed with family. But surprisingly, I don’t remember feeling unsafe. The next three years we lived with my grandmother felt more like a gift; and the years we spent building a new house on the spot where the old one had burned, an adventure.
As an adult, I realize that my parents experienced those years differently. They spent the next decade recovering, and everything for them was marked by whether it happened before or after the fire. The things that did survive were water damaged and, even years later, carried the unmistakable smell of smoke. Oddly enough, when my parents rebuilt, they decided to heat with wood and placed a cast-iron woodstove in the very center of the house. Today, I marvel at this. I marvel at the fact that after all they experienced they could ever trust fire again.
I marvel too that once we experience sexual brokenness and the danger of impurity we could ever trust sex again. That we could ever trust each other again. That we could ever believe that goodness could be in any way associated with sexuality’s fiery power.
“When we see God in all His purity and faithfulness, we will melt like gold and silver in a refiner’s fire.”
But as much emphasis as the Scripture places on pursuing purity, it places equal if not more emphasis on being purified. Because the truth is that none of us, as hard as we try, are pure. As we judge things against the standard of God’s whole and holy faithfulness, we quickly see how far human beings fall short. As we examine our own actions, beliefs, and motives, we very quickly see the deceitfulness of them. “Who can say ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin’” (Proverbs 20:9)?
We can’t. But as we see our own unfaithfulness, we’ll begin to entrust ourselves to the One who is faithful. And when we see God in all His purity and faithfulness, we will melt like gold and silver in a refiner’s fire. No secret sins, no lack of integrity, no hidden desires can withstand Him. No shame, no taint, no corrosion can remain. Standing before Him, our impurities are removed and we are made whole. For when He appears in a bright blaze of purifying fire, “we will be like him because we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Or as Malachi 3:2 asks, “Who can endure the day of his coming? And who will be able to stand when he appears?” None of us. None of us can withstand the blaze of His glory. And that’s precisely the point.
And to those of us who submit to the purifying process, God promises to preserve us—to make sure that we pass through the fire instead of being consumed by it. So that:
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
[His] grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame will not hurt thee; [He] only design[s]
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
 While the authorship of “How Firm a Foundation” is uncertain, this hymn was first published in 1787 by John Rippon in A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Intended to be an Appendix to Dr. Watts’s Psalms and Hymns.
by Hannah Anderson
Winner of the 2018 TGC Book Award for Christian Living “And God saw that it was good…” Look out over the world today, it seems a far cry...
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