The Great Refining

IMG_0677[1]Hi everyone!

This week I passed my halfway point! Nine months out and nine to go. 9-month ceremony: burn a piece of clothing. I didn’t actually want to burn any of my clothes, but luckily I found a shirt that some previous missionary had left in our apartment. It had a fluffy decal thing on the front that burned quite nicely.

Honestly I can’t believe that it’s already been this long. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been a missionary forever, but most of the time I feel like I just walked out of the MTC. I have so much more to learn!

IMG_0681[1]I’m going to try to get some of my thoughts together about it all. Since I burned a shirt to celebrate, I was thinking about fire haha and I started thinking about the refiner’s fire. In Malachi 3:2-3 it says: “He is like a refiner’s fire… And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” The Bible Dictionary provides further insight: “Refiner: A man who separates the precious metals from the dross with which in nature they are usually found mixed. Part of the process consists in the application of great heat, in order to bring the mass into a fluid state, hence the term “refiner’s fire.” Christ is the great Refiner.” So I was thinking about it and realized that my mission has been a refiner’s process for me. I mean, yes I have been able to help others and will continue to do so, but I think I’m changing just as much as the people around me.

On my mission, my lifestyle is pretty much the definition of “in the world but not of the world.” I am completely focused on helping people come to Christ. That is my calling. No movies, no TV, no internet (besides weekly emails) and no books besides the scriptures. I don’t go to parties or on vacation. I go out every morning and talk to people and serve and teach all day and come home at night and sleep and then do it again the next day. No pay, no worldly rewards. But the blessings are incredible. As have been doing my best to consecrate my time and energy to the Lord, I’ve seen that those little things I’ve given up have become less important to me. I’m starting to see that the things that really matter are the things that last longer than this life– my faith, my relationship with my Savior, my family. I’m being refined.

IMG_0680[1]So then I started thinking that I don’t want to stop being refined after my mission, and then I realized that the reason I’m being refined is not just because of those things I’ve given up but because I’ve turned to Jesus Christ. And I don’t have to stop doing that after my mission:) Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a lifelong pursuit, and that means a lifetime of growth.

So it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are or what you’ve done. If you center your life on the Savior of the world, the great Refiner, He will help you fill your life with the things that matter instead of the things that don’t. It will take change because none of us are perfect, and it will not be easy, but it will be worth it. I know that His way is always worth it.

And I love the last part of that verse in Malachi. It explains why Christ refines us: “that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” When we allow ourselves to be refined by focusing on Christ and using His Atonement to become more like Him, we truly are able to become instruments in His hands to help those around us and to do His work.

IMG_0672[1]I love my Savior and I love His work. I’m so grateful for the opportunity each one of us has to follow Him:)

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Stratford


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