The small ceramic bird I had been working on, sat on the table beside me. My father, a disabled veteran and volunteer who taught ceramic classes at the VA Hospital Outpatient Clinic in Minnesota, set out the stains for me. I had looked at various pictures of birds, trying to decide exactly what sort of bird I wanted this one to be. I finally settled on painting a scarlet tanager simply because I loved it's black wings against it's red body.
I opened the bottle of red stain and stopped. Wait a minute. This wasn't red. The label must be wrong. My dad came and looked at it and told me it was correct. I stared at it in disbelief. That was not the bright and cheerful red and had envisioned. This color was dull and ugly. I would NOT put that awful color on my bird!
That's when my dad explained to me that though my bird would go in looking drab and ugly, something amazing would happen inside the kiln. When it was subjected to the intense heat for an extended period of time, the impurities would be burned away and the true color would be revealed.
I had to trust my dad. Though I did not understand, I went ahead and followed his instructions and used the stains he provided me with to paint my little bird. Then I had to give it to him so that he could fire it.
Then came a time of waiting. It had to stay in the fire for awhile. Then it had to cool down. I had to wait until my father said it was ready for me to hold and take home.
I remember how anxious I was to see my little bird. What would it look like? When I saw it, I let out a cry of delight! My dad, who was very artistic, had added a few strokes finishing strokes here and there which made my little bird perfect. How beautiful it was and the ugly, dull body was transformed into a lovely red by the heat of the kiln.
Persecution is one of the fire which brings out our true colors. It burns away the impurities and imperfections and reveals who we really are. Sometimes this does occur at the hands of others. There are definitely places in the world where declaring yourself to be a Christian not only brings ridicule; it can mean the loss of your job, family, freedom and even torture and death sometimes.
On the other hand, difficulties (trials) often arise simply because we live in a fallen world. We face natural catastrophes, sickness, death, loss, loneliness, relationship challenges, financial challenges and so forth because that is a part of life.
We must never become foolish enough (or arrogant enough) to believe that trials and tribulations will never happen to us. If we are too ashamed to declare Christ now, if we cannot trust Him when we face the every day challenges of life we must acknowledge the fact that we are NOT rooted and grounded in Christ. We do NOT have a firm foundation and rather than deny it and get offended we need to take steps to fix it by learning to fix our eyes on Him rather than our problems. When we change our focus... well... something amazing happens and you will discover that you are growing stronger than you ever imagined possible.
Brilliant. We need to change as we're refined in the fire. And though we may not realise it at the time the trainers fire always shows our true colours.
Excellent blog, K ! It brings to mind these scriptures from II Timothy 2: 11, 12
[blockquote]11 It is a faithful saying ; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him :[/blockquote]
[blockquote]12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him : if we deny him, he also will deny us :[/blockquote]
It brings to mind as well the scripture from Jeremiah 17: 9 that says "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked : who can know it?" Within ourselves, we have no idea of the degree to which deceit is embedded within our hearts; this is why the things you've listed such as...
[blockquote]persecution, natural catastrophes, sickness, death, loss, loneliness, relationship challenges, financial challenges and so forth...[/blockquote]
can be used by God to help us become as much aware as possible of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness that governs us. As painful as all of these things are -- and they are indeed painful -- they are tools that God uses to "change" the corrupt condition of our hearts. It is through these sufferings that we become aware and desirous of changing, and His word is true, for "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him : if we deny him, he also will deny us."
This looks like your 200th blog for 2013 !
I can testify to this!
Once again, an excellent analogy! Perfect!
That is your forte, taking everyday life and drawing a spiritual analogy!