Sunday, April 23, 2006

Refined & Transformed

We know our experience is not unique. We assume you have all been right where we are at one time or another.

We have been in Haiti 3 months now. It has been amazing, interesting, fulfilling, exciting, amusing and fun. At the same time, it has been different, challenging, confusing and at times intense & exhausting.

Overall, we thought that the first three months were fairly easy. Easier than we expected for sure. Quite honestly, we kept wondering "Can it always go this well?" "Will it always be so easy?"

Starting just after Easter Sunday, we started facing challenges. These challenges came one after the other in all areas of our lives. All week long things kept getting worse and more confusing. We found ourselves asking God, "Why?" "Where are you in this?"

We know He is somewhere in it, but when you feel those troubles heavy on your shoulders you definetely have moments of feeling alone and questioning the meaning of all the hardship.

Times of trial are promised to us in the Bible. Jesus told us "In this world you will have trouble..." If there were no trouble what-so-ever, then we should probably worry.

Trouble and trial means an opportunity to grow. More than that, it means God wants to teach you to trust him in all circumstances. At our Port au Prince church, more than a few of the sermons have focused on trusting the Lord in the middle of the ishy stuff. Trusting Him when it is easy and without issues, requires nothing of us. Trusting Him when it is hard is where the opportunities lie.

We are human, so this week has been up and down. Our emotions are all over the board. We do sense the Lord's provision and protection. We do think we are in the middle of learning new things about Him. We know He is teaching us to be more like Him. If it were always easy, there would be no growth, no change and no opportunity to be refined and trasnformed. This story is from a past blog. It has been a good reminder so we're sharing it again.

Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest 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 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." 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."

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