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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lessons from the Glass House

3The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, 
but the Lord tries the hearts.
(Proverbs 17:3 The Amplified Bible)

On my journeys in Virginia, we went to an old-fashioned glass blower's house.  We learned that the fires of the furnace had to be stoked for a period of not less than two weeks in order to get the necessary heat to actually produce the highest quality of glass.  Two weeks of stoking a fire seemed like a lot to me - think about it - two weeks of standing around, just waiting to be able to "get on" with the thing you really know you enjoy doing.  Isn't that how we often think about the times of the "stoking" of the fires of our heart?  We want to move on to the next thing that we actually enjoy about our walk with God and he wants us to have the fires stoked a little hotter so that the thing produced will actually be of the highest quality!

The crucible is only at its best when it is at its hottest point.  In order to get the fires that hot, they have to be stoked quite frequently.  That means constant oversight and care.  More "fuel" must be added to the fires to keep them burning, coals must be turned over and over until they glow red-hot, re-infusing the embers with fresh oxygenation.  As the glass-blower worked with that "blob" of glass he removed from the furnace, it had no real form, but it was very pliable and as a result, it had potential to be something it was not presently.

I think that is the purpose of the furnace (crucible) in our lives - it brings us to the place of being something we are not presently.  As the glass-blower worked with that unformed glass, he went through many iterations of forming, reheating, reforming, and reheating that glass.  And guess what, the final process was the heat of the kiln!  Even once formed into what he wanted it to be, it needed one more "heating" in order to "cure it" to be useful in the hands of the one who would put that vessel to use.  I think we often find ourselves thinking we are finally what God desired for us to be, then find ourselves in the "kiln" of his "curing process" and wonder why.  It is probably because without the final step, we might not fulfill his intention!

The glass, in its original form, is a mixture of various products (sand, potash, lime, etc).  The glass, in its final form, no longer resembles the "ingredients" of the process - but what is produced is a thing of beauty.  The individual ingredients are necessary - life provides these for us.  God is the one who knows the EXACT mixture of ingredients that will produce the vessel he desires.  Without the furnace, the ingredients are nothing more than a mixture of parts.  It is the furnace that actually "melds" the parts into the thing we will eventually behold as a beautiful, functional vessel.

Don't know what the "ingredients" are that God is mixing together in your life, but they are indeed important to his finished image of you!  The furnace is also part of that process.  We might want to consider the value of the process of the furnace - though it is quite uncomfortable, it produces a thing of beauty and functionality that is never apparent in the "ingredients" of our lives when they are all viewed individually.  It is the furnace that "melds" us into the thing God desires.