I’ve had plenty of those melt-downs as a parent. Those times where I’ve become frustrated, stressed and then crack. My patience went down the drain, my temper surged, and I just lost it. I’ve never been proud of receiving the “Worst Mom Of The Year” trophey (and I have a few on my shelf). Am I the only one? I’ve also grown to learn that sometimes we can have spiritual melt-downs too.
Soul melt-downs aren’t pleasant either – actually painful sometimes. Another word for it is refinement which means to bring to a pure state which includes fire and intense heat to soften a matter in order to purify and form it into a different shape. (You might want to watch this to see how) And in the Church, that’s what this time of the year is intended to be when practicing Lent. It’s a season of purification, or sanctification, through a refining process. It’s a time of endurance, patience, faith and surrender to God in order to experience new life through Christ’s resurrection which is just on the other side of the hill.
This afternoon I needed to sit down to take a breath, make time to be still for a moment and read. (Because when I don’t, I’m more prone to earn another trophy!) This is where the Book opened to – Joel 2:12-14
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend (tear) your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing – grain offering and drink offerings for the Lord your God.”
The 40 days before Easter are all about refinement – standing in the furnace to be molded into the image of God. Refinement isn’t a quick process. If you were being heated, trapped in a circle of flames, to be melted like metal, gold or silver, that would be painful. Which means, for us to be spiritually refined, it can also be slow and can even hurt.
While reading those words of Joel, God seems to be telling the people (ahem us) to return to Him because they had gone their own way by hiding from Him and disobeying Him. Return to God with all your heart which includes the emotions and feelings that come with it when you confess and repent, often accompanied with tears. When we do that, God can relent.
I looked up the word relent to make sure I understood the meaning of it. Here’s the definition I found: “to soften in feeling…become more mild, compassionate or forgiving.” Verse 14 says, “(God) may turn and relent…” (He may soften in feeling, become more mild, compassionate or forgiving). God is by no means mild when it comes to His power – BUT He’s more than willing and so full of grace, compassion, and mercy to forgive, reform and heal our hearts when we repent and ask Him to.
Here’s a little history for you on the word relent: From way back when, relent was formed from these two Latin words: “RE- which means “to melt, soften” and LENTUS which means “slow, supple (or pliable)”. RELENT: TO SLOWLY MELT IN ORDER TO BECOME PLIABLE. That sound like REFINEMENT to me.
A purpose of refinement is to return to the Lord as Joel said, with all your heart once you’ve been put in a firey furnace in order to be formed into the image of God. It takes time. It can include pain but in the end, we’re purified and it’s worth it.
These days, when we see or use a word that begins with re- it means “to make new”. So it got me thinking: Every year we have the invitation to practice Lent. To practice refinement. To practice being slowly melted in order to become pliable by being put into a furnacy opportunity. Every year there’s usually an area in our lives that needs to be placed (or pushed) into a flame.
Every year we need to repeat this practice and time of refinement as we await Jesus’ return. We need to re-Lent so we won’t forget what Jesus did for us. We need to re-Lent in order to give ourselves a self-examination by digging deep in the soul, even if it hurts, to expose sin. We need to re-Lent to repent. We need to re-Lent to slowly melt our hearts to become pliable so God can shape us into His image. We need to re-Lent to become “gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abound in love”. We need to re-Lent because we need Jesus. It’s actually a never-ending part of our lives, but it seems like we need to have this time set aside because if we don’t, it’s easy to forget who God wants us to be – a reflection of HIM by becoming new with Christ.
I’m reading Holey, Wholly and Holy by Kris Camealy this season about the process of refinement and restoration:
“You’ll know it when He’s calling you toward His refining fire. The smooth surface you’ve long stretched over, covering the cracks underneath, begins to ripple from the heat. Memories surface, old woulds begin to weep – the cracks widen and hurts spill.
This is not a time to turn and run, though that may be our instinct. This is the time to stand still, to listen to what He’s whispering, and to allow Him to strip you of the covers you’ve been hiding under. Trust me when I say you’ve not got anything He hasn’t seen before. Stand in this fire, let Him purify you – this is how He loves us. This is the process of sanctification.”
Return to Me with all your heart…
Allow me to refine you to become more like My Son…
Re-Lent so you’ll never forget the love I have for you…