Hebrews 11 is a terrifying read. A straight up reminder that a life of love requires courage that does not resemble the comfort that we so crave. Just when I'm tempted to ask God to ease my discomfort I read about all those, starting with Abel, who walked courageously in faith; willing to forego the delights of this world to see the face of God.
"...Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging and even chains and imprisonment. The were stoned they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated--of whom the world was not worthy--wandering..." (35-38)
I read that "Without faith it is impossible to please Him."(6)
What that means to my weak and fearful soul is that in order to please Him I must be willing to step through my fear. That it is impossible to please Him without facing the suffering that terrifies me. Faith means placing Isaac on the altar. Facing the wrath of Cain, the scorn of Noah's people and the spears of Pharaoh. Journeying to unfamiliar lands. Facing the jaws of the lions. To be willing to sacrifice the comfort I desire in this life like those who "did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better."
I am not a courageous person. I am undisciplined. To pray Lord, please change my life forever; make me completely yours is the most terrifying prayer I can imagine. It is inviting the Lord to extract my diseased and imperfect desires so that His Will and Life and Love might reign.
When I pray "refine me" I cringe and struggle to hold back because I shrink from the fire that is required. Do I really mean it? Life in Christ is saturated with beauty. It is only the Christian who can look at suffering, at a crucifix, and see beauty there as well. But it is much easier to observe from afar than pick up our own cross.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (1 Jn 4:18)
Lord, help me desire this purity. Help my prayer be whole and pure and true. Accept it in spite of my weakness and fear and hold me to Yourself as I struggle through this exile. Your ways are not mine and as I seek You, I beg that Your will be done in my soul.