November 13, 2009
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
"What makes this set of china so much more expensive than that?" asked the customer. "It has more work on it. It has been put through the fire twice. See, in this one the flowers are in a yellow band; in that one they are on the white background. This had to be put through the fire a second time to get the design on it."
"Why is the pattern on this vessel so blurred and marred - the design not brought out clearly?" "That one was not burned enough. Had it remained in the furnace longer the dark background would have become gold - dazzling gold, and the pattern would have stood out clear and distinct."
Perhaps some of those who seem to have more than their share of suffering and disappointment are, like the costly china, being doubly tried in the fire, that they may be more valuable in the Master's service.
"The potter never sees his clay take on rich shades of silver, or red, or cream, or brown, or yellow, until after the darkness and the burning of the furnace. These colors come - after the burning and darkness. The clay is beautiful - after the burning and darkness. The vase is made possible - after the burning and darkness."
How universal is this law of life! Where did the bravest man and the purest woman you know get their whitened characters? Did they not get them as the clay gets its beauty - after the darkness and the burning of the furnace? Where did Savonarola get his eloquence? In the darkness and burning of the furnace wherein God discovered deep things to him. Where did Stradavari get his violins? Where did Titian get his color? Where did Angelo get his marble? Where did Mozart get his music, and Chatterton his poetry, and Jeremiah his sermons? They got them where the clay gets its glory and it shimmer - in the darkness and the burning of the furnace." - Robert G. Lee
My prayer has been shaped (through this same fiery furnace) from a previous plea of, "Lord, please finish this process as quickly as possible and let me on my way" to a more desperate cry, "Lord, I want the purest of refinement. Please take as much time as you need to rework and reshape my heart. Whatever you do, please finish the process fully and completely - just allow me to endure it."
God help us not rebel at the second breath of the flame if (and when) You send it.