The Refining Process

This was originally posted 12/22/2008, revised 2/11/2015

Often times we are quick to ask God for the desires of our hearts, mainly because we have always been told that God will grant us the desires of our hearts. I don’t think that’s exactly right, if we study it out, though. Nevertheless, it is rarely emphasized that God may grant us the desires of our hearts as long as it is in accordance to His Will and fits into His plan. Most of the time, our prayers are infested with personal desires that have no true relevance or purpose beyond ourselves, but rather is nothing more than our own selfish pursuits. We tend to forget that James talks about this; “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

Now, that really wasn’t the reason for this blog—that was more of a rabbit that I was chasing with the intent to introduce the topic I want to talk about…

The point is that sometimes we ask God for things and He actually grants the request, but not always exactly the way we thought it would be, or should be. Sometimes, we ask for a diamond, but instead He sends us a lump of coal. Although we would much prefer the finished product, more often than not God gives us things that require an amount of effort on our behalf to cultivate whatever it is to make it the object of our desire. We then not only receive the item itself, but also the beauty of the refining process.

We are much the same way—though we strive for the goal of being like our Lord, Christ Jesus, it is a refining process. We would love to just be made complete and whole and perfected upon salvation, but the refining process takes time. In fact, it takes a lifetime.

This reminds me of the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”. The focus of the movie was not the happiness of the main character, considering he didn’t seem happy the majority of the movie, but rather the pursuit of happiness. I believe that is like us—our focus is the goal before us, but what makes our lives unique, personal, individual and meaningful is not the goal, or even the achievement of the goal itself, but rather the process we go through to obtain the goal. It is the refining process, or the pursuit of righteousness, that is key. Much like an artist is typically more passionate about the process of creating a masterpiece than about the actual finished product itself.

For many years, I worked in the steel industry. One thing I know about is the process of making steel. The first step is taking scrap metal. This is found in junk yards and piles of scrap metal that most people abandon. This would be symbolic of our lives before Christ; broken and discarded by the world.

Then we take that scrap metal and metal it down in a furnace. As the metal is heated, the impurities rise to the surface. To me, this is when we accept Christ; His holy fire comes down and begins the refining process within our lives. The result is the impurities in our lives surface and become evident.

The next step is called slagging. This is where we take the impurities from the top of the molten steel and remove it. This is where God starts speaking to our hearts and convicting us of our old behaviors that we need to give up. The impurities that surfaced, we start removing.

Next, we tap a heat, which is taking the pure molten steel and putting it into a ladle. After that, the ladle is taken to a station to add alloys and additives to create the specific product the customer requested. This is symbolic of the life long process of adding His Word into our lives and other positive sources, replacing the impurities we had to get rid of in the slagging stage. This builds and strengthens and grants integrity.

Finally, we cast the steel into a mold. This is where we form the steel to the final product, ready to ship to the customer. To me, this is parallel with the scripture that says that we are to conform to the image of Christ.

I guess what I am getting at is that we should not be so focused on the destination that we miss the journey. We should not be dismayed if God doesn’t send us exactly what we asked for because our blessing may not be in the thing itself, but the process of making that thing what we want it to be.

 

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