Because we belong to God, what we are now is not what we will be. You have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes adversity to create a strong witness for Jesus. This is what I believe Paul is sharing today in our reading.
Several things came to my mind as I read our passage. The first was a smelting pot where the process of heating the material inside is used to purify it. The second is an olive press where the fruit is put under enormous pressure until the very pure heart of it flows forth. I can see both of these in Paul’s words. But the process that grabbed me more than any other is candle carving. Let me tell you why.
I see the Artist at work in my life. He gave me a specific shape as my base. He is that shape, my Base. I cannot grow into anything without its support and structure. For my growth I am placed into different situations that color me and add to my supporting structure, never leaving the true form of my Base.
I do NOT want anyone to confuse the work of my Artist with that of punishment. Yes, the situations are uncomfortable as I grow but are necessary. He is not testing me or tempting me. He is molding me into something beautiful. And the majority of the discomfort comes from my own hands. I put myself into situations that cause distress. He simply uses that distress as a means for growth.
Back to my candle. When I have achieved many layers of growth it is time to begin the next phase of His work. He has a design in mind for me. He had it from the beginning and knew how long to continue the basic growth process. Now He takes up the knife and begins to carve.
He is sure and firm in His work. He is also gentle and caring. Each stroke of the knife is done to exacting specifications. I have no idea what the finished product will look like and certainly have no clue as to what each cut will represent or require. But I submit myself to His process. Watching in awe as each slice or turn of the knife reveals a new work of art. His hands skillfully twist and arrange my exposed cuttings to showcase the development along the way into a swirl or curl intricate to His design.
I patiently endure His ministrations while wondering what my final form will be. I know it will be wonderful because He designed me Himself and He is a Master Craftsman. When He is finally satisfied with the process and product, I receive a final sealing that ensures my usefulness as well as my continued beauty.
His process has change my outside only. My inside still remains the same Base. Once lit, the more the Base is made to bear His light the more beautiful I will shine through. His light will pour out through the layers, folds, colors and even scars He used in my making. I am His work of beauty showing forth His form and purpose. I am beautifully and wonderfully made!
Thank You Father for all the time You put into making me. Thank You that You created the design. Thank You that You are my foundation. I would be empty and useless without You. I want to be useful to You as well as beautiful. I know many people don’t want to light such a candle for fear of ruining it but because YOU made me I know I can survive whatever use You put me to. I’m not really an elegant carving of wax but Your handiwork and instrument for Your use. Play on me Your instrument.
Yes, Lord. I realize that I often need tuning as Your instrument. Or maybe it is still another slice of Your knife in my carving that I feel. Do with me as You know best Lord and forgive me for the times I try and take over or try to wiggle out of Your hands.