CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Refiner's Fire

My grandfather was a blacksmith.  Though I was young when he passed away, I remember him well.  He was small in stature but great in strength.  He was a man of few words, but every word mattered.  He was German born and bred. He often spoke in his native tongue and his English was heavy with accent.  If my grandfather liked you, you knew it.  If he didn't ..........well, you knew that too.   He owned a blacksmith shop, one of the few left of it's kind.  The "shop" always had a mysterious, almost ominous feel to it.  He usually worked alone, wearing a leather apron that hung around his neck and down past his knees.  The shop was dark, dirty, cluttered and oppressively hot.  Though I cannot say what exactly he burned in his forge to make the fire so hot,  I clearly recall the smell.   I can see the flaming, almost translucent red tip of the iron that was thrust into the white hot coals.  I can hear the sharp pinging of his hammer as he forged the iron upon the anvil.  He would hold up the object for inspection and then go back to work;  forging, pounding, shaping until it met his satisfaction.  My grandfather was known for his craftsmanship.  People brought their equipment to him because they had confidence in his abilities with a hammer and anvil.

I do not pretend to be knowledgable in the art of blacksmithing, the little I know comes only from the observation of a child's keen senses.  However, I do know that the forge and it's blazing heat was absolutely necessary for the craftsman to work with the iron.  Likewise, heat is necessary for the purifying of gold.  Gold can only be seperated from it's impurities after having been liquified by intense heat.   A critical part of a silversmith's job is to sit with a steady eye upon the furnace.  He knows that if the time and temperature of refining is even slightly exceeded, the silver will become damaged and lose it's value.  The silversmith watches intently, for he knows that the refining and purifying is completed the moment his own image can be seen in the silver. 

I am very much aware that God, our master craftsmen, has allowed the intense heat of tragedy in our lives, not to harm us, but to better us.  I cannot say that I understand all of His ways but I am certain that we are upon the anvil of his will.  We have been thrust into the white hot flame of sorrow and grief and have been purged and cleansed of many of the impurities that were, for so long, a part of us.  He has taken the things that we once held valuable and reduced them to dust in the face of life's fragility.  Our minds, hearts and souls, once cluttered with that which was trivial, are now consumed by Him.   The flames of heat have stripped us of any value or esteem that we once placed upon ourselves.  We stand naked, bare and pliable in the hands of our Creator.   We now have awareness, with a deeper clarity than before, that we are nothing and can do nothing without Him.  We have witnessed, first hand, that in times of great need, He and He alone is able to hold us up.  The ability to live,  breathe, and carry on is possible only because of His grace and mercy.  The searing heat of this refining process has been excruciatingly painful and has left us dry and thirsting for Him and for our eternal home.

We can rest in the knowledge and assurance that "he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver"  Micah3:3
 There is a song that we sing often in our church about the Refiner's Fire.   Despite the blazing heat of the past year, we have never doubted His love for us.  I have wondered at times if the sheer intensity of this blaze will devour us but he is watching and He knows what it is that He is shaping us for. As I watched my grandfather work, it mattered little that I had no idea the purpose of the iron he was shaping.  He knew exactly how hot the fire needed to be, how long to leave the iron in the forge and how and where to hammer in order to achieve his purposes. Now, more than ever before in our life, we long to be set apart for Him.  We beg Him to purify and cleanse us from within. 

I dream of  one day walking, arm in arm, with my Lord, tracing the nail scars in his hand, asking him all of the questions that fill my heart and listening intently to His answers.  The number one question on my list will likely be "Did I learn, Lord?  Did I learn whatever it was that  you wanted me to learn from all of this pain?"   Someone very wise has recently enlightened me to the fact that the Lord's purpose for all the pain may simply be to bring heaven  and our longing for Him closer, to make it more real.  The refiner's fire has left us with only one desire, to be living in His will and to see Him and our precious girl again some day.    Our Lord has a tight grip on us and He is not letting go. He is expert in the art of refining and purifying.  He loves us and is faithfully and intently watching the refiner's fire. His gaze has never wavered from us.   He sees into our hearts and our souls and He is looking for His reflection. 

In this you will greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while
you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 
These have come so that your faith
-of greater worth than gold.
which perishes even though refined by fire-
may be proved genuine and may result
in praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed
I Peter 1:6&7

1 comment:

  1. Karol,
    You and your little Laynee are an inspiration to me. I wanted you to know that and to share an award with you. Please check out my blog when you have a chance. Hugs to you always.