Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Refiner's Fire

Pictures just can't do it justice.  This most beautiful form of fine art.  Glass blown, shaped and colored into the most exquisite sculptures.  

Light.  Color.  Reflection.  Shadows.  Angles.  Individual pieces selectively placed to create one larger creation.

 All components marry to display such grand beauty.  Our recent trip to the museum was most specifically to see this most special Chihuly exhibit.  Though we, especially artist husband, wondered what all the hubbub was about, we knew very little about what we would see.  Dale Chihuly, an unfamiliar artist - blind in one eye.  All we knew of him was that he'd been compared to Louis Comfort Tiffany... and a family day spent at the museum is always fun.

We were pleasantly surprised as we caught first glimpses of sparkling glass, casting enormous shadows about the wall and ceiling.  Throughout the exhibit we learned a bit about the process of creating such masterful works of art.  One particular quote stuck out, hanging in a fairly inconspicuous place on the wall of the room filled with baskets made of glass.  It read:

Immediately God, the Refiner, seemed to speak loud and clear.

Some days it sure feels like we've been dragged into the furnace, because I'm not sure we entered willingly.  The growth we've experienced has come with great pain.  The stretching, the molding, the heat that has at times seemed to choke the breath out of us.  The trials we walk through, the injustice that seems to envelop us, the process that causes us to see hopefully less of us and more of Him.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

  “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.  But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.  He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
  “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages,the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me" says the Lord of hosts.  
"For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed." 
Malachi 2:17-3:6

Though it has has, at times, felt scorchingly hot, we have not been destroyed.  The Refiner's fire is one that refines, that purifies.  It does not destroy.  The path to purity is painful, yet it's the pure in heart that are blessed, for they shall see God.  

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  James 1:2-4

"Both things are true: The Lord is like a refiner's fire; and a refiner's fire is a fire." - John Piper

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