Tested and Refined
“[You keep] us in life and [do] not allow our feet to slip. For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined,” (Psalm 66:9-10).
Many a father has placed a ball or doll in front of his baby to encourage her to take a first, wobbly step towards him. The father knows his child can stand. He knows she’s ready to walk on her own. She just needs to make that important discovery for herself.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, God becomes our heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit comes to live with us, giving us gifts to accomplish His will. The problem is, we are like babies, not wanting to let go of our current comforts though God asks us to move forward. Like the baby, we have to discover our God-given abilities.
Years ago, I was terrified to speak in front of an audience. However, I began to have thoughts about doing just that. I’d lie in bed at night with my eyes closed, and I’d see myself at a podium. I thought one day I might speak to women, since I had a heart to encourage them. But I’d also seen men, dressed in suits, sitting in the crowd. This went on for years, and the feeling that one day I’d speak in front of a crowd never went away—nor did the fear.
A few years later, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 63. I was devastated. In the midst of his battle, my dad drew close to the Lord, and he recommitted his life to serving Him, even if it was from a hospital bed in his home. No matter who came to visit, my dad would ask if he would see them again in heaven one day. It was a pointed question to be asked by a dying man, but Daddy knew the importance of their answers.
One morning, while reading an In Touch daily devotion to Daddy at his bedside, I felt led to ask him if I could speak at his funeral. I wanted everyone to know how God had changed his life. He said yes, under one condition—that my husband, a pastor, would stand with me and give an altar call after I spoke. Even in his death, Daddy wanted to tell others about Jesus.
The next week, I found myself sitting on the family pew at his funeral, grief-stricken and heartbroken. I was too upset to be afraid; my sole focus was on sharing my dad’s story. I remember praying that God would get me through it, the same way He had gotten me through the past 11 months. So at the appointed time, my husband and I walked up to the platform.
I didn’t look at the crowd at first because I was wiping tears from my eyes, trying to gain my composure. But when it was my turn to share, I saw a full church. For a moment, I couldn’t speak—not from fear, but from disbelief. There, in front of me, was what God had been showing me all those years: a room full of women—and men, wearing suits.
For years, God had been preparing me to speak. And at Daddy’s funeral, in front of hundreds of people, I passed the test. Through the fire of my hardship and grief, the Lord refined me, and I discovered a precious spiritual gift.
Like a baby who finally discovers how to use her legs and walks happily towards her earthly father, I too discovered my God-given abilities. I now follow my heavenly Father’s leading and encouragement—confident He’s enabled me to do anything He asks of me.
Written by Beth K Fortune