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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

Refined to Become Pure

In January of 2023, the word “joy” rested on my spirit, and while I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, or claim a word for the year, I thought that year, after so many years of surviving and suffering, I would determine to choose joy come hell or high water. I have failed miserably. Rather than delighting in the freedoms afforded me on Calvary Hill, I have fallen into flogging myself for all my past sins. People whom I have loved have been a mirror to the worst of me, and I have recounted my sins of decades past and present, helplessly owning them and hoping for mercy from man. In trying to convince them that I am a new creature in Christ, I allowed my feebleness to make my sins to be my anthem; ”who am I to deserve light? I am a wretch, impure, unworthy, and that is all I will ever be.” I allowed their impassioned words to be louder than the Holy Spirit, and their demands of my brokenness were only the spark needed for me to live once more under the weight of my lifetime of wrongs. 

I have healed from and forgiven excruciating losses and betrayals. And this past year, when I could have been living in the light and love of forgiveness and God’s mercy, I have tormented myself in the dark nights for every foolish act I have ever done. I put on the yoke of my sins and it has been crushing me. I have looked in the mirror and seen the light draining from my eyes and only slipped further into despair. I have delved into the innermost parts of my heart and turned over all my mess that was once washed clean by the blood of the Lamb and I have effectively said, “Lord, your Son’s perfect life shed for me, is not enough! Don’t you see what a wretch I have been? There is no redeeming this mess of myself. I can never be pure again. So how could you really love a wretch like me?” Every time I battled with myself, and tried to pull myself out of the grave, saying that I am choosing JOY, a louder voice said, “but look at your sins! You do not deserve joy!”

How can I be worthy when I know the acts of my hands, of my heart, when I am ever reminded of all my filth? Can what was filthy be made pure again? I will never be loved for the work God has done in me, but always remembered for the wrongs I have committed. What a helpless state of mind I have allowed to wash over me and consume me, to rob me of rest, to rob my children of me, to rob the Kingdom of one more redeemed soul proclaiming loudly that the grace of Christ has set me free, and I am free indeed!      

A week ago, after my house had undergone massive repairs from a flooding, I opted to sell some sliding doors, rather than junk them; waste not, want not, after all. I could not know that God would send his saints to come to me, and for the cost of four sliding doors, I was reminded of a beautiful truth that my mind knows, but my heart had rejected; none of us are worthy. A godly couple arrived in the Spirit and for a precious amount of time, I saw God tipping his cup of redeeming waters over my head, and renewing my spirit once more. Who am I that the God of the universe would use such small matters to visit the brokenhearted and speak life giving truth into a weary soul? How many times must I flee him, must I resort to my own wayward understanding, before I cease to disbelieve that the God of all creation could look on this wretch and see only the beauty of a life washed white as snow by the priceless gift of his own Son? How small is my faith yet. We are made worthy only by the Lamb, and not of our own works.

I found these words that I penned, within a stack of notepads that I continue to use until they are bare, because the thought of wasting something that holds the potential to convey something of beauty, seems tragic to me. I don’t remember the date that I wrote them, but I remember the thoughts as I was faced by a love that seemed so pure in so many ways, reminding me of my impurity. The helplessness, that I would never be worthy to be loved and loved well; but worse, that I could not look on my Savior and trust that he finds me to be worthy of love.

So much that was once impure has been made pure by refinement.

What was once filthy is made clean.

We expect purity to be something we’ve always been, not something we’re refined to become.

This is the hope of Christ, that his blood can purify the filthiest of hearts.

Am I ready for his purifying waters?

So with that, over a year of intense self abuse, I am determined to not waste the agony. It has been months of opportunities lost to burst forth from the shell of who I was and with joy, proclaim my sins only as evidence of how great the love of my Lord is. My sins of the past are not evidence of who I am, nor of who I am becoming, they are evidence of an overwhelming love that looks upon the wretch and chooses to see their sin no more. It is my fervent prayer that I never forget the sins of my past, not to wear them as a yoke of bondage, but as broken chains that I carry with my hands to every town and nation that I may step foot in, and use them as an instrument that plays a song of redemption. My sins forgiven and blotted out from the sight of my Savior, are evidence of his blood purifying the worst of these. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

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