1 Peter 1:7 - These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (New Living Translation)
I have always been fascinated watching smiths do their craft. They take material, whether it be metal or glass and thrust it into blazing fire, hot enough to soften and even liquify the matter. Then with great skill, they twist and turn things until suddenly a new object begins to form.
A good smith knows how to read the fire. He can tell how hot it is just by looking at it. He knows exactly when to put something into the fire and how long it needs to be in there. He knows how and when to adjust the heat. He knows how to mold the object, even when it is in the fire. Sometimes he turns it one way, sometimes he turns it another way. Knowledge and experience has taught him just what to do.
In addition to making material more pliable, the fire has another purpose. It burns away all the impurities. I remember this became very evident to me when I was a girl. My father, a disabled veteran, volunteered at a day treatment center for disabled vets. Concerned that the men there were "vegetating", the staff and volunteers at the center set about to change that. Monday-Thursday, patients had to sign up for a variety of classes and activities. On Fridays they had the option of having a "free-day" though there were still outings and other social activies planned for those who did not want to sit around watching television all day or simply play cards for eight hours.
One of the duties of my father, amongst other things, was to teach ceramics. I remember him showing me the greenware. Then he showed me how it looked when it came out of the kiln. Instead of being a dingy gray, the objects were pure white. He explained to me about how the intense heat burned away all the impurities. He also told me if there was a flaw in the object itself, the heat would cause it to explode. That's why objects had to be inspected before being placed into the kiln lest they be destroyed and perhaps even destroy other objects in the kiln as well.
Peter tells us that "trials" in our lives have a purpose. It purifies and strengthens our faith. Often times when we are enduring a trial, we become discouraged because it seems like God is keeping us in the fire instead of delivering us. When this happens, we must remember that God has a purpose for keeping us in the fire and that we are "okay" despite the heat. We are in the hands of the "Master Goldsmith", God Himself. When it is time for us to come out of the fire, we can be sure that He will remove us from it and when He does, we will discover we are stronger and more beautiful than ever.
May God work His perfect work in us!
Photo Credit: neelaka/flickr.com
You are so right! I liken the life we live as our wilderness experience, and my prayer is I never get used to it. proverbs 30:8-9
8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.
I am very glad you brought that up about how the greenware must be cured first by setting on the shelf for a time. I had forgotten all about that though I do remember sitting next to my father and carving away the seams left by the mold. I remember taking a damp sponge to clean the greenware of all debris. Then I had to turn the piece over to him so that he could inspect it and make sure it was smooth and ready.
It is a process that cannot be rushed. To do so would mean the piece could be damaged or even destroyed. The process of molding and firing in our lives to make us the vessels God desires us to be, is a long process as well. We absolutely must learn to trust God and be patient, yielding ourselves to the capable hands of the Master Potter.