Thursday, February 22, 2007

Refiner's Fire

You've likely heard this one before. It's such a wonderful picture.

Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it"

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

This put me in mind of a section of Hind's Feet on High Places that has always been precious to me...

Last of all he took her up the stairway to the highest floor. There they found a room with a furnace in which gold was being smelted and refined of all its dross. Also in the furnace were rough pieces of stone and rock containing crystals. There were put in the great heat of the oven and left for a time. On being taken out, behold, they were glorious jewels, flashing as though they had reeived the fire into their very hearts. As Much-Afraid stood beside the Shepard, loving shrinkingly into the fire, he said the loveliest thing of all.

"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay they foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones" (Isa. 54:11). Then he added, "My rarest and choicest jewls and my finest gold are those who have been refined in the furnace of Egypt," and he sang one verse of a little song:

I'll turn my hand upon thy heart,
And purge away thy dross,
I will refine thee in my fir
Remake thee at my cross.

There's a song that Mr. Glock taught us at Emmaus that has been the prayer of my heart many times through the years since:

Living God, consuming fire,
Burn the sin from my life.
Make Your will my desire;
Take my life in Your hands.
Purify me with Your blood
Till I shine far brighter than purest gold
In Your eyes.

Some of you have guessed that I'm "in the fire" right now. I treasure your prayers, and I appreciate being able to share some of what the Lord is teaching me (for the how-many-eth time?). May I become a shining specimen of HIS work!


MagenRanae said...

Oh, man, Laurel. I'm feeling like I'm "in the fire" right now as well. Here I am sitting in the library at school, crying over what you've written. It's such a joy to know that, even though you're "in the fire" right now, God is using you to encourage me today. I guess that means there's hope for my day too? What a gracious God we serve.

Laurel said...

He IS gracious and good, isn't He? Sometimes it's so easy to lose sight of that.
I'm so thankful that He has used my sharing to encourage you, my friend.
It's good to know that He will be faithful to complete the work He has begun in us. Even when the fire is hot and painful.