The Refiner's Fire
Purity comes at a cost. Purification is a process. Progress is the journey.
Recently, a program aired on television that showed how the ancients refined gold and silver. The refining of metals dates back to 550 BC at Sardis, where the first coins were minted. The refiner would heat the fire to 700 degrees to melt the silver and then pour it into clay jars. The impurities would float to the top and stick to the edges of the pots. How did the refiner know when the silver was pure? He knew when he could see a perfect reflection of himself in the silver.
The question that I have been trying to answer for myself is: who am I? I have to admit that I often struggle with the knowledge that I have been made in God’s image because, at any given time, I can take a spiritual look at myself in the mirror and I have yet to see His perfect image staring back at me. The fact that I do not see His reflection does not mean that I am not made in His image and it does not mean that I will never see His reflection looking back at me. Refining gold and silver is a process and refining human beings is a process as well.
Malachi 3:2-3 describes Jesus' coming as follows:
“For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”
When I called out to Jesus my life changed immediately. My image did not. I became a child of God. I did not always look like one to those around me, especially in the beginning even though the process of my refinement commenced immediately.
I look at many circumstances, events - and from time to time - a crisis here and there. In retrospect, I can see that in all things, God has allowed the heat to be turned up in order to separate the dross from my character by this very process. I am called to reflect grace and mercy, not unkindness and judgment. I am called to reflect courage and faith, not cowardice and fear. I am called to live and walk in integrity, not dishonesty. The purification, or refining, in my life is a journey, one that deepens my dependency on Him, one that brings me into a more intimate relationship with Him, and one that brings me closer to having His reflection look back at me in that spiritual mirror.
Knowing Him is loving Him. Loving Him is doing as He did in the same nature and spirit as He did.