Refined.

Some of us are living in places where quarantine regulations are lifting. For my family, that looks like beaches being open from 5-8 am, spending more time with neighbors, and certain public places opening at half capacity.

As we come out of the fog of quarantine, there has been a lot of talk about the fact that the world will never return to “normal.” It will never be the same, and that is a scary thought for many.

I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I do know one thing: nothing can pass through fire without being either consumed or refined.

Remember how Jeremiah had to constantly warn God’s people about their idolatry? He used trials as an attempt to refine them, but they did not listen.

“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: “Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do, because of my people?” -Jeremiah 9:7

We can’t just forget the last few months and move forward as if they never happened. What are we taking away from quarantine? What is God trying to teach us? How can we leave “refined” from this fire?

*Side note: A great song about not being alone while we pass through life’s fires is Another in the Fire by Hillsong United.*

God has been teaching me too many lessons to write in one blog post, but I would love to share one insight.

As a missionary whose “formal” ministry is teaching, I have struggled with the fact that I am reaching a significantly smaller number of students via online classes. Like much of quarantine life, it has felt like our ministry has been frozen. (Ok… just kidding it’s WAYYY too hot here for anything to freeze. Let’s go with PAUSED…)

Our team stumbled upon the topic of prayer one night, and it occurred to us that we are all prayer slackers. It was something we had discussed previously, but had not really found a tangible solution other than to pray more.

Through the discovery of one little app called PrayerMate, God has completely transformed my prayer life. Many people already use notecards or have some slick system, but this has been a great way for Type B me to suck it up and regularly pray for ALL people in my life.

Praying consistently for a wide variety of people has opened my eyes to what God is doing in the lives of others. This heightened awareness has enabled me to be able to connect more deeply with the body of Christ and minister in more meaningful ways. Also, it is ENCOURAGING to see how the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of all mankind.

At the end of teaching an English class this last week, I showed one of my students her name in my app and the notes with topics I had been praying over her. She choked up and explained that she recently has been feeling the need to connect with God. She didn’t go into much detail, but it was evident that God was on the move in her life, and the things I had been praying over her matched up with the specific ways God was speaking to her. Wow!

Even though my physical distance from so many people is what motivated my prayer ministry, it is something that I would like to continue to grow in and make time for as this quarantine comes to an end.

No longer do I feel isolated from ministry. Quite the contrary, I feel humbly connected to God’s work throughout the world.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. -Ephesians 6:18

How has the “fire” of quarantine refined you? What has God taught you through this experience? Please share in the comments! 

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