He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3 NASB)
Sitting in my Physical Geography class was a treat. I love geography, it was my minor in college. I took every geography class offered. It was in that class one day I found out something that would be a life changing example for me.
In Southern California we are used to wild fires. Those Santa Ana winds whip up combined with ultra dry terrain and it is a recipe for a flaming inferno. One little careless campfire ember, a lightening strike, a lit cigarette tossed out a car window and bam, you have yourself a raging fire.
There have been two occasions in the last ten years that the entire county of San Diego has been closed down because of the fires. The smoke hangs over America’s Finest City like a huge tent and it comfortably stays put until the winds move it along. Not healthy for moving around or even breathing.
My instructor told us of certain seeds, trees and plants that need the heat of the fire to thrive and grow. Interesting! I had never heard of such a thing. The jack pine tree produces a pine cone so compact and coated with resin that only the heat of a fire will loosen the cone and release the seeds. They fall to the ground and sprout new trees in the rich ash produced by the burning foliage.
Another bush pretty much native to our deserts is the manzanita. It has a beautiful shiny reddish brown wood that looks highly polished. I remember going on a field trip in 6th grade to the desert. The teacher told us we could not take any manzanita or break any off as it was against the law. Of course a couple of boys who shall remain nameless smuggled some in their backpacks. Wonder if they still have that contraband? I kept waiting for the manzanita police to board our bus and take them away in handcuffs! Apparently manzanita is protected and only it’s fruit can be harvested with a permit. Who knew? Anyway, the manzanita seeds are extremely hard and need the fire to pop open and reproduce.
As a silver refiner starts his refining process he is continually turning up the heat on his smelting pot to force the impurities in the silver to come to the surface. As he sees these impurities called dross immerse he scoops them off and discards them. He continues this process until he can see his reflection in the highly processed silver.
When, in life, the heat gets turned up we can choose to rely on God to get us through or succumb to the fire. We can let the impurities in our personality and life choices burn off and be gently scooped away or we can go down in flames. Believe me I have done both! The going down in flames part can be devastating. I have learned over my life that when I see the little kindling of the fire start to smolder I pray first. That prayer gets me going on a path to face that fire and walk forward.
Never in my life did I ever think I would survive the fire that was the death of my mom. The heat of the grief was overwhelming. So much baggage from childhood, 4 years of restoration then she was gone. My precious Lord carried me through and out of that fire like a well trained firefighter. I came out more compassionate for those in depression, more resilient to life, with a deeper understanding of God’s love and care and learned that breathing was my friend. Refined for the moment.
Praise God for the refiner’s fire. Praise God for examples in nature and in life that He gives to us so we can relate. He has made a way for us to present to a holy God our offerings of righteousness. ️