The Refiner’s Fire

smithy3Last week my wife and I, along with several of our adult children, went to Arizona to witness the wedding of my niece.  While on that trip there were several occasions where references would come up that I thought were common knowledge, but had happened well before the time of the 20-somethings we were with (and we don’t even need to mention how often I was unaware of something that was common knowledge to them).  That got me thinking of old illustrations that I think everyone has heard, but that may not have ever been heard by the young adults among us.

Additionally, with regard to this particular illustration, it occurs to me that it means more to me now (having recently suffered physical illness and currently suffering some financial stresses) than it did to me when my own life seemed really rosy.  So take some time to read and mediate on Malachi 3:3 and on this illustration.  It will either serve as preparation or comfort; hopefully both!

There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi.  As they were studying chapter three they came across verse three which says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver 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 so 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 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. For if the silver was left even 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 the easy part — when I see my image reflected in it.”

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

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