And I will confess that even today's post isn't a Stacy Original. My niece sent it to me in an e-mail, and although I'd seen it before several years ago, I love it and thought I would share it. Maybe some of you haven't seen it yet and would like it as much as I do! I first read it when I was going through a period of severe depression and was struggling with why God wasn't stepping in and DOING something. This, plus the "Footprints" poem really helped me see that He wasn't abandoning me, and that He did have a plan for my life, that even the blackness that I was in at the time would serve its good purpose.
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.
The picture is a very clear picture of how God deals with His children. Silver is most often taken from lead (from what I read on the Internet), which is a lot like us being taken out of the world, or out of our old selves. In order to do that, to get rid of the lead and get the good stuff, it has to be burned at very high temperatures. So, in order for God to get us out of the world/our old selves, He has to pour the heat on. I don't imagine it's a process He enjoys any more than we do, knowing that it's painful to us, and difficult -- except that He knows what the end result will be and exactly how long we have to go through the fire. And in the end, we, like the silver, will be able to reflect the face of the Refiner.
So, yeah, that was incredibly obvious, but it made me feel all wise and "rabbonical", KWIM? lol But hopefully this image will help someone who's going through a period of refining to realize that it's not for no good reason. And God really DOES know what He's doing. (And in looking on the Internet for the above picture, I realized that I am FAR from the first person to post this story in a blog, or to illustrate it, either! lol)
I would like to take a moment to thank Jamie and Mel for your recent comments on my posts. Especially the ones concerning the materialism post. They've given me good "food for thought" and helped me not feel QUITE so bad about myself! I don't come from a tradition that "does" Lent, neither does my current church observe it, so it's a difficult thing for me to get my head around. Not so much the "going without" -- I mean, on a sort of superficial level I get that, on a kind of "legalistic liturgical" level (don't take offense -- I'm not done with my thought yet). That part is because I know ABOUT Lent from "the culture" (i.e., the things that float around in the world around me that I hear about), and I know there are lots of people who observe Lent from a strictly "tradition" point of view and give up whatever just because they're "supposed to." What I mean about getting my head around it is ... well, I guess I want to understand the depth of it, from those of you who truly OBSERVE LENT, like Jamie mentioned. For you it's not just a "tradition" but a time of focusing on your relationship with Christ and what the season means and all of those things ("all of those things" being the things I'm woefully lacking knowledge of). Sometimes I think I'll "do Lent" because it sounds "cool" (from a devoted-Christian kind of perspective), it sounds so "holy" to GIVE UP something for forty days in honor of the run-up to Easter. But then I don't do it because I'm a non-liturgical Protestant who has No Clue. Not really. And I don't want to do it "wrong," for the wrong reasons. And I know that because I'm not part of the group that understands Lent and does it for the right reasons, I'd give up after a few days anyway. It'd be kinda like a New Year's Resolution.
So, I'm truly interested in Lent, in what it means to those of you who practice it. I think it sounds like an amazingly wonderful thing, actually focusing for forty consecutive days on Christ. I mean, yes, we're supposed to focus on Christ every day, which I am more or less successful at depending on what's going on in my life at the time (ugh, I hate how superficial that sounds!). But to TRULY FOCUS, to have a specific season of focus like that. We non-liturgical Protestants miss out on so much. (I love liturgy, BTW. I wish we had more of that kind of thing in my church.)
I'm sure I just showed my TOTAL ignorance of Lent. Feel free to set me straight! Lovingly, of course. ;-)
Okay, I need to go give my family material sustenance (or whatever you call feeding them actual food as opposed to spiritual food). I bought U2's "Live Under a Blood Red Sky" DVD at the grocery store today. I have the video but can't watch it now since we don't have a VHS player anymore. It's a very iconic concert/vid for me. I'm glad to know that Bono is a Christian. An unconventional one, to be sure (and I'm not sure God really approves of Bono's, *ahem* colorful use of language), but I think we need more "unconventional" Christians sometimes. Bono definitely lives out Jesus' message with his initiative to help with the HIV/AIDS relief effort in Africa. You go, Bono!