We are well on our way into 2011 and I can’t help but rejoice in the things that I was able to leave behind. As I have thought of all I was able to let go of, I realize that there are some things we just can’t get rid of so easily. The one thing that comes to the forefront of my mind is the “refining” process that the Bible tells us so clearly that we will go through. First, we have the refining process of gold. Job 23:10 says “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” The process in which gold is refined is both complicated and expensive. Sounds like the trying of our faith doesn’t it? We question God at every turn to find out if this process is necessary. Does it have to be done this way? So uncomfortable? So hot? And the price of refining is expensive, it costs us our lives, dying to ourselves. When gold is refined, the furnace reaches 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot! That temperature is necessary to remove the impurities, the junk. The gold is heated evenly for 2 1/2 hours, and then some of the impurities are tested to see if any gold remains. If there is any trace of gold in the impurities, the whole thing is placed back into the furnace until the gold and impurities are separated completely. “When he has tested me” and the impurities are removed, then, and only then, can I “come forth as gold.” Malachi 3:3 says “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” To refine silver, the silversmith needs to hold the silver in the middle of the hottest flames to burn away the impurities, a process different from gold refining. A silversmith not only has to hold the silver in the flame the entire time, but he also has to keep a close eye on it because, if its left in the flames a moment too long, the silver will be destroyed. A women once asked a silversmith “How do you know when the silver has been refined?” “Oh that’s easy,” he replied, “When I see my image in the silver.” What a wonderful picture of what God is doing in us during the times we spend in the fire. He is making us a reflection of His image. I have been in many refining furnaces, and one thing I have learned is that they don’t last forever. God’s word tells us that He will never give us more than we can handle. The flames will never bring us to the point of destroying us, although sometimes it can feel that way. As He holds us in His hand, His eyes are never removed from us, and, at just the right moment, never too late, He brings us out and, as He looks at us, He can see His reflection. C.S. Lewis once said “Often the key to conquering suffering is the willingness to suffer.” So, give up! I’m not saying to jump out of the fire. Give up to God. When we cry out to God, “I can’t do this on my own, I need you, I’m giving you my hurt, my pain, my anger, my way of doing things!” That’s what He is waiting for. At that point, you can feel the Refiner’s grace wash over you. Sometime it’s immediately and sometimes it’s slowly, but we will be taken out of the fire and looking a little more like Jesus.
And by the way, young Michael Glaser looked good in the big pic on the front page of the sports section of our local paper, today. Congratulations on his home run in Skylines’ 12-2 win over rival Idaho Falls.