The Refiner’s Fire paints such a beautiful picture for us.
You might have heard the story before about the woman who goes to a silversmith to watch the process of refining silver.
The Refiner’s Fire
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.’ (Malachi 3:3) 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.’
I have heard this silver analogy many times. This story becomes more beautiful, more real for my life each time I read it.
The Bible also uses the process of making silver as an example of what it is like for God to refine us. From this, we learn that he uses the heat of life to purify us into a pure picture of him.
The struggles of life refine us to His image.
The challenges of life apply a cleansing heat to pride, bad attitude, and selfishness.
This holy heat is applied with purpose.
As I read this story of the silversmith, the story caused me to dig in and figure out what the Bible has to say about being refined like silver.
There are so many verses and phrases that, if we allow them, will purify us!
During my study of the refining process, I ran into a verse in Jeremiah 6. While reading this verse, I realized that not all silver will be refined. Some silver contains metals that cannot be removed with fire. The silver will refuse to let go of impurity. When that happens, the silver is rejected by the refiner, unable to be purified. Jeremiah 6:29 says, “The bellows blow fiercely to burn away the lead with fire, but the refining goes on in vain; the wicked are not purged out.” Jeremiah was called to speak to the nation of Israel in a time when they were in complete disobedience to God. They were worshiping other gods, seeking help from ungodly nations and living life in an unholy manner.
They were refusing to be refined. They chose the dross over being made into the image of God to the world around them.
If you take the time to look at the verses in the Bible that deal with the refinement of silver, you will know that God seeks the refinement of our hearts. He wants to purify us from the inside out, making us into His image.
It is his desire to refine us. But it is our choice whether we want to be refined.
In other words, we can buy Christian mommy books, read Christian mommy blogs, get advice from godly women, sit in church on Sunday, spend our Friday mornings in Bible study and still not want to be refined. We can still step out of the process and refuse to let go of the dross.
You see, daily, God is calling to us, giving us ways to grow, desiring to refine us in the fire of his love and yet we walk away. If we continue reading in Jeremiah chapter 7, we will read God’s command to His people. God says, “…but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward not forward.”
Think about that last statement. To be a silver that cannot be refined you have to make a choice to live in disobedience to God. You have to say no to the refining process. You will walk backwards and choose not to take steps forwards toward Him. Even with His quiet whispers, even in the challenges of life, even in the hard work of marriage and motherhood, you can refuse to change, to grow and to be refined.
Since studying the silver process and the verses of scripture about the refining of silver, I can’t get the phrase, “…but the refining goes on in vain…” out of my head.
I underlined it in my bible and I’ve been praying daily “Lord, don’t let me refuse the refinement of your holy fire. I want to be more like you. Help me to be made into a silver that will reflect you. Please help these daily struggles to not be in vain. Help me to see them as opportunities for you to work in my life.”
I don’t want to walk away from the heat.
I don’t want to take myself out of the growth process.
I don’t want to hang on to dross and impurities and other gunk.
I want to choose the refining fire in my life.
Even though it is hard, even though it is humbling and exhausting. Even though that cute husband and those cute kids often bring up the dross in my heart that God wants to refine. I choose it.
I choose growth. I choose to be refined. I choose obedience. I choose to let every situation of life guide me closer to the image of Christ.
Will you choose this with me?