But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.
When God comes to visit humanity, it is an awesome experience. I mean that in the most dreaded sense of the word awesome. God strikes fear and holy wonder in the heart of the person He touches. And He burns away sinful excess and purifies painfully to bring the soul to the place where the marvel of God's holiness enthralls it.
That is why the prophet asks this question. Who can really stand up to God? When He appears, our fallenness and lack of holiness is graphically apparent. We are beggars in the midst of royalty. We have nothing with which to compare ourselves to God, and unless He refines us and purifies us, we cannot stand next to Him. We need the refiner's fire. We need the washing of regeneration.
On this last day of 2008, I am reminded that I am in need of God. The more I serve Him, the more aware I am of my need of Him. The more I seek to know others who seek Him, the more convinced I am that redemption is what is needed, for we cannot make ourselves better people. Humanity is tragically twisted and in need of God to do something to our souls. He longs to repair us, to refine us, to burn off the tarnish and filth of sin and make us better in His presence.
I am praying that this new year to come will find me closer to God and more refined by Him. I pray that my dross will be consumed and my gold will be refined. I pray that I will be clothed with the fine garments of righteousness that He longs for me to wear.