(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")
There are no guaranteed results from this trip through the furnace. (If you haven’t done this self-and-faith-exploration “workbook,” go back to the beginning to see what it’s about in the post “Through the Furnace: Intro 1.”) It all has to do with your willingness to be honest, transparent, and obedient, and with how much you invested in self-introspection, prayer, Bible reading, and learning to listen to the Spirit. And once again, there is no real end to this journey. I would love to be able to say, “Congratulations on working your way through the Graduate School of Faith. Here is your diploma.” But that can’t happen. Because we will never graduate until eternity comes for us.
But as you climb higher and dig deeper with the Lord - as you shift your focus from the temporary to God’s kingdom and His righteousness. - your life will become more vibrant, alive, and fulfilling. We will end up in the furnace again from time to time. We will slip. We will at times get tired of digging and climbing. (Oh, don’t I know it!) But we will be drawn back to God, because we know the blandness of life apart from Him and the exhaustion of trying to do it on our own.
Before we get into some ideas for future challenges, I would like to pose a few more questions for reflecting back on the whole journey that you have been on up to this point.
1. How has this journey changed me and my relationship with the Lord?
2. What stood out to me the most from all that I’ve learned?
3. Do I live in humility – being needy for the Lord, helpless on my own because I am so dependent on Him? What in my life shows or doesn’t show that?
4. If not, what else am I relying on? What is taking His place?
5. Can I honestly say that He is what I really need to be fulfilled? If I never get what I ask for and never have my expectations met, will I be okay with that because He has become all I need? If not, what fears and doubts are lingering? What expectations am I holding onto? Why is it hard for me to let those go?
6. Do I seek His glory and do I focus on eternity in all I do? Or am I living for myself and focused on my life and what is temporary? In what ways might I need to change?
7. Have I allowed His unconditional, unearned love to enter all areas of my past, my life, and my heart - to fill me, heal me and make me whole? If not, what is blocking it or what areas are still closed off to Him?
8. Am I living in an awareness of His holiness? What in my life might show that I am not? (disobedience, lack of seeking after Him, no sense of conviction, etc.)
9. In my own words, what does it mean to be “humble like a child”? How can I live it?
10. Where and how do I go forth from here?
11. Is there anything that is missing in my life right now or any big regrets? Is there anything that I can do about that? (If you can’t do anything about past regrets, forgive yourself and look ahead to wherever God is leading you next. Living in the past only sucks the life from your future.)
12. Is there any prayer that I should pray, but I am hesitating to do so for some reason? (Sometimes we know what we should do, but we procrastinate and hesitate until the “knowing” goes away. And examining the prayers that are hard for us to pray may give us a clue as to when we are refusing to do things God’s way. Here are some examples of prayers that are hard to pray. If any ring a bell with you, ask God to help you figure out why.
a. “Lord, help me forgive so-and-so for . . .”
b. “Lord, I fully give You this concern. May Your Will be done in it.”
c. “Lord, forgive me for . . .”
d. “Lord, make me an instrument for You. Use me as You Will.”
e. “Grant me wisdom about . . .”
f. “Give me the strength to . . .”
g. “Lord, how am I responsible for this problem and what should I do about it?”
h. “How do I need to change to be more like You?”
i. “Lord, have I done anything to grieve the Spirit?”
j. “Lord, open my eyes to what I can do or to needs around me.”
k. “Lord, fill in the blank with the prayer that you know you need to pray but haven’t yet.”
13. In what ways would I like to be different by this time next year? What needs to change to accomplish that?