Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Life in the Crucible

Have you ever had a season of your life that felt like you were living in the crucible?

What exactly is a crucible you ask? It can be a bowl for collecting metal that has been heated to extremely high temperatures, it can be an extreme testing or trial, or it can be a mortar bowl and pestle which are used for crushing herbs and spices.

The mortar and pestle resonates with me: I think I have been living in one for some time now. How exactly does a mortar and pestle work? A mortar is a bowl in which you place a natural product like peppercorns or herbs. A peppercorn in it’s natural state is nearly useless, (unless you like to break your teeth on tiny, hard rocks.) A peppercorn is not good for seasoning food, which is what pepper is meant to do, right? When you place and peppercorn in the mortar and crush it with the pestle, you release the potent, flavorful power of the tiny peppercorn. A little goes a long way with crushed pepper. You can actually magnify, multiply and lengthen the life of a peppercorn that has been crushed. 

I think I am a peppercorn. The Lord has been crushing me in the crucible with the purpose of refining me into a more flavorful, more intensely useful seasoning. I’m not gonna lie - life in the crucible sucks. It’s painful. Just when you think the refining is done, another series of poundings begin; resulting in further refinement. One big difference between me and peppercorn is that I can choose to get out of the crucible. I could say - Enough! I could walk away and say this is as refined as I get. No more!

If I didn’t know that God is GOOD ALL THE TIME, I don’t think I could take it. I have to fall back on what I know is true about him. He is good, ALL the time and his plan for me is good. He is faithful to finish the good work he began in me. He’s not content to leave me as I am. He desires to refine me like a precious metal or a table seasoning. 

These are some of my foundational beliefs about who God is and who I am in relation to him. I realize that I have had a few crutches to lean on that support me in these beliefs - my family, my friends, my church, etc. So what happens if God removes or changes of few of these relationships - can I stand on these foundational truths without crutches? Can these truths bear the full weight of belief? Is God still good ALL the time if I don’t have others around me affirming those truths? Especially in a season of life in the crucible?

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 125: 1-2

In the end, the work will be for his glory and my benefit. I know and understand God in new and different ways. I have never felt his presence so near to me as I have while being refined. He is the God of comfort - who comforts us so that we might comfort others. For his glory. So I willingly submit to life in the crucible.

Is the Lord crushing something in you? Is it hard to submit? He is near, longing to bring comfort, healing, restoration. You can trust him, even in the crucible.

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