Word for Wednesday... Refinement
Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.Proverbs 25:4
“Don’t eat the yellow snow!” I imagine those were the last words many parents spoke to their children as they tumbled out of the house this past Sunday afternoon to enjoy the rare occurrence of a wintery mix in central North Carolina. When I was a kid, my mom would take this familiar advice one step further and caution against eating snow altogether, regardless of the color. She insisted it was dirty, and since we didn’t believe her, she set out to prove it. She instructed us to take a large bowl and fill it with a generous amount of snow from a place of our choosing. She then melted it in the microwave, revealing a dog hair, a small pebble, and some sort of insect. The revelation did not stop us from eating snow, but it did encourage us to consume snow from places the family dog could not access.
Just as it’s hard to convince a child that any dirt could possibly exist in something that appears so white, pure and magical, it’s hard to convince people that anything undesirable could exist in creatures made in God’s image. Sure, there are exceptions, individuals that we are quick to identify as pure evil, but we like to believe that most, including ourselves, are good and free from any imperfections. While that may have indeed been the case, in the very beginning, it is true no longer. Those first humans yielded to their ungodly desires, and sin entered the world, resulting in a life, and a world, that was far less than what God intended. And sadly, with the exception of one individual, we’ve all replicated their behavior.
But God has not given up on us! That much is clear through the testimony of Scripture, and most of all through the gift of Jesus. He wants to remake us into something beautiful, but that requires the removal of all that would hinder that process. One word the Bible uses to describe this work is “refinement.” Like a silversmith who melts down her material to remove the dross before shaping and forming a beautiful vessel, God wants to melt us down in love and purify our hearts so we can be the creations he intended. And he invites us to participate in this process, by joining with the psalmist and praying: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). The next time you see snow falling, remember and embrace the work God wants to do in you.