Therefore if you spend your life trying to escape from the heat of the fire that is meant to soften and prepare you to become your true self, and if you try to keep your substance from melting in the fire-as if your true identity were to be hard wax-the seal will fall upon you at last and crush you. You will not be able to take your own true name and countenance, and you will be destroyed by the event that was meant to be your fulfillment.
Refinement, or, instruction, isn’t all bad is what I gather from this quote above.
Like a parent, God instructs us in pleasant, and sometimes, not-so-pleasant, unexpected ways—not always easy to accept.
See: Old Testament Job as the extreme case of God permitting one man’s family to encounter evil to its largest degree.
But maybe you’re experiencing desert-like conditions in this new year. Maybe the weather isn’t the only thing proving to burn your cheeks when you step outside.
I have to pause and think about conditions, circumstances as they hit my family.
Personal growth isn’t always Monopoly’s— pass Go, collect $200.
It might be like Jonah’s summons to go where I don’t want. Maybe that’s the service being asked of you & me?
Ninevah might be reappearing on the spiritual calendar.
Since God himself is good, could it be better to turn tail and run away on a boat for bluer waters?
Maybe in the short run. But it won’t be the refinement needed to reach true spiritual growth—to love on a deeper level, deeper than anything known before.
True self is a term that sounds a lot like something Dr. Phil or a TV personality might use. But if we remove the psychobabble from it for a moment, the prayer can take deeper root.
I like this analogy of wax and seal used in Merton’s quote. Much like Christ being the Vine and us the branches, it harkens to the importance of our willingness and our hearts being prepared to relent, to serve. To yield to One who knows better than us. To yield to One who knows the future.
Because we do have true names. Think about it. God has given us each true names. Beyond our parent-given names and surnames. We have countenances supplied by the divine.
Forget wars and rumors of wars. None of that matters if we haven’t taken time to listen to our route and followed those loving instructions. The fulfillment will never occur, and we won’t reach the Beloved in a way eternity meant for us to.
Much like being lukewarm glasses of water, we will be spit out from our Maker’s mouth.
Who else, or, what else should hold our attention more than this divinity capable of warming, molding, and sealing ourselves for the mission field before us?
Brian L. Tucker