Think about a runner with her heavy backpack on her back. How do you think will she be able to even make it to the finish line? Now think about a lady dying of suffocation and she has layers of thick clothes on her. How easy do you think can she be helped and revived? This time, think of yourself as a home decorator and your client does not want to get rid of anything in her house. How easy will it be for you to do the decorating?
All these are analogies of how we are when it comes to our walk with God. We can be like the runner with a heavy backpack on her back. We may still be carrying a lot of baggage with us while running this race. Now are you wondering why there are those who are barely making it in this walk?
Or we can be like that lady covered in layers of clothes. We are suffocating from the attacks of the enemy and we are crying out to God. But how can God revive us quickly if there are layers and layers of our hurts, unforgiveness, and anger?
And here we are asking God to restore us and make us whole. Just like the decorator, how can He make our house beautiful if we don’t want to get rid of the old stuff we have… our past relationships… our achievements… and a lot of other things from our past?
God is in the healing, restoration, renovation, and revival business. All these require an overhaul and a stripping off of those things that are not anymore needed. You and I know that an overhaul can be pretty messy, yet when it is done without interruptions or delays, the result can be astounding.
God destroys so He can build. He takes away so He can replace it with something new. This is the very concept of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The power is not so much on Jesus’ death but on His resurrection. However, death was needed for the resurrection. And that death was severely and excruciatingly painful.
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest (John 12:24).
God doesn’t want delays when it comes to the work He is doing. Though He is patient, He wants unflinching focus when He starts working. He is like a goldsmith who works with utmost precision and strong concentration. Any resistance on our part not only delays the process but affects the quality of gold that is being produced.
The refining of gold is not easy. Since it is most common to have a physical combination of gold and silver, the separation of silver from the gold becomes difficult. Other materials can also be mixed with gold, which makes the process very tedious.
This holds true for us. We are like that gold obtained from the earth’s crust. We have residues that we brought with us when we surrendered and committed our lives to Jesus. For Him to be able to do a thorough restoration process in us, He has to strip us off. He has to remove all our dirt and impurities. These impurities may not even appear too obvious. We may even think nothing is wrong with it. Yet, not even silver can be mixed with gold if what the goldsmith wants to produce is gold.
Take the story of Joseph. His father Jacob gave him a robe of many colors as a symbol of his being highly favored by his dad. There was nothing wrong with that coat, yet God had to strip it off. Thirteen years later, Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, put it on Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in official vestments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. He was made second in command to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:42). Jesus’ robe was also stripped off from Him. Yet, when He resurrected, He was clothed in His resurrected garment.
The stripping off is necessary for the fulfillment of God’s promise… for bringing us into the next season… for promoting us to the next level.
The first thing God stripped off from me was my business. He knew that it was my pride and the fruit of my self-sufficiency. After taking away my business from me, He took away my ability to make money. He closed all doors and opportunities for me to make money. Then He stripped me off of my ability to make plans by putting me in a long waiting season or what I would rather call a “neither here nor there situation”. Then He removed my spirit of independency by giving me a husband and subordinating me to him. He still continues to strip me off of my pride, something I didn’t know I had so much of.
This process of stripping off is not fun. I always feel my flesh screaming and kicking and holding on tightly to what God is removing. Most of the time it takes me days before I finally surrender everything to God. It’s not that I don’t want to immediately surrender. It’s just that even if I say “I surrender”, my mind and emotions don’t follow. Subjecting my thoughts and feelings to God when they are rebelling against my spirit takes the energy out of me and it really pulls me down. This is when I just go with God’s flow and wait for His help.
Believe me, though I am totally committed to God and so passionate in serving Him, my flesh still resists all the time. There was even a recent incident when God exposed my pride again and my husband corrected me. And boy oh boy, my flesh hates correction. After some exchange of words, we finally came together in prayer. I cried so hard in prayer, asked forgiveness from the Lord, and surrendered everything to Him. And my, oh my, after praying, my flesh started rebelling again. I could hear this voice in my mind saying, “you shouldn’t have prayed that prayer and made your husband feel that it was all your fault”. See that? Just after being led by the Spirit to pray, my flesh started acting up again.
It seems like my flesh will always cling to what it has always been… a sinful nature. It will always cling to the residue and toxics that have so much become a part of it. And this is what God is stripping off. This is what He continues to break from me almost mercilessly because I want to be thoroughly restored. Though my flesh resists, I continue to surrender to God and allow Him to do His thing in me. Though the process is painful, I continue to bear the pain and subject myself to it instead of run away from it. Though it drives me crazy, I choose to go through it knowing that I will shine like a precious gold, free from residues and impurities.