This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ ” Zechariah 13:9
I recently read a story of a woman going to visit a silversmith to understand the refining process. The silversmith 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 about Malachi 3:3 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.’
A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. No pain no gain, right?
The past few months God has been refining me. Actually, that’s not entirely true. He’s had me in this process for many years now, but I just recently fully stepped into and surrendered to it.
This morning I woke up on the floor of my bedroom a little dazed. God and I wrestled last night. He won. I realized yesterday that a big part of the refinement process for me is control. He asked me months ago to surrender. I thought I had. Apparently I was mistaken. :)
Pain can either be the most useful or most useless part of your life. It all depends on how much you trust God in it.
At some early hour of the morning, I finally surrendered everything to Him. And I mean EVERYTHING. I have no idea what God will choose to give back to me or in what form it will be. I’m just trusting that this is for my best. I’m still raw from the process of change and it’s hard to stay what ‘normal’ is now. But to wake up this morning and feel like a completely different person, to be somewhat unrecognizable, is not scary like I thought it would be. When you can look at yourself in the mirror and see the image of God staring back at you for the first time in a long time, it’s an amazing feeling! Everything else just doesn’t seem so damn important anymore. I pray that as I continue on this journey that He will use me to reflect His love and light.
For those of you that feel that you are being tested and refined, don’t lose hope. Know that while it can get pretty flippin hot in the center of the fire, I now realize like in the story above, that God is present and working like never before. Trust the process and keep moving forward. 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.
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” Malachi 3:3