I am feeling hemmed in with no means of escape, not even a handy fire exit. I stand before God with all my insecurities exposed knowing the only way ahead is to go ‘through’ the pain, ‘through’ the hurts and ‘through’ it all. I am on a journey of obedience and self-discipline as I surrender my heart and my will to God. But let me tell you a secret – my spirit is rejoicing, even though my flesh is complaining.
A couple of years ago my son celebrated his birthday at the “Escape Rooms” in Auckland. As a group they were locked into a ‘themed’ room patiently following a series of clues and puzzles which provided keys to enable their exit. I find this concept very relatable right now.
“I am in (the Biblical) Joseph’s Prison” I wailed to the Lord, aware of the restriction and confinement I’m in. “It’s not a comfortable place, it’s confronting and it hurts – a lot.”
“No, you’re not; you are in a Refinery” I heard the Holy Spirit reply.
A Refinery? What did this mean and how did it apply to my present situation?
Wikipedia enlightened me “A refinery is a production facility composed of a group of chemical engineering unit processes and unit operations refining certain materials or converting raw material into products of value”
I had to smile (albeit with some derision) at that last sentence. Basically, I’m a lump of shapeless clay on the potter’s wheel being crafted into a product of value by the Master Potter - God. I realise my job is to stay put and allow Him to mould me into what He plans to make. I can’t pipe up and say “Actually I’ll be a Port Merion vase please” or “A nice soup bowl”. The Lord knows what He’s fashioning and He’s doing the refining.
Aware that God is making something beautiful of my life sings to my heart and my spirit. I am not in a dark depressing Prison with only a visiting sparrow hopping onto my window ledge for company. No, I’m in a place where I’m being converted into something of value, purified, refined and sanctified by the God who loves me and wants the very best for my life.
I hope to bring encouragement to you also. Maybe you are feeling like you are in a tight restrictive place which doesn’t make sense as you navigate pain and disappointment. Or perhaps you have some unanswered questions. I believe that the work God began in us He will fully complete! Friends, please stay put on the Potter’s Wheel. You are his Masterpiece.
“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
Once moulded the finished piece of pottery is placed in the hot Kiln oven. This process in the furnace serves to increase its strength and set its shape. You and I cannot grow without this refinement, or be free without God going deep into the painful recesses of our hearts.
At times I have wanted to give up, leave the ‘Refinery’, jump off the Wheel and get out of the hot Kiln oven. But where would I go? What would I do? And what would it achieve? The truth I’ve found is that God is the only one who can fill the void in my heart and soul. My happiness can only be found in Him. Throughout this season He has been showing me who He is, His constancy, faithfulness, love, grace and mercy. My part is to have faith in the process, faith in the Master Potter’s work.
The Refinery is indeed a place of testing and affliction, but I’m seeing it as a pivotal point where major life changes happen. Affliction sucks; it’s pressurising and brings up the ‘stuff’ within us that the good times conceal; but without it, how can there be any transformation?
As I was writing this piece, I paused to look up the Greek meaning of the word affliction, a laugh escaped from my lips at God’s humour. If you re-read the first sentence of this post you will see just what I mean.
The meaning? Oh yes - “Used of a narrow place that hems someone in, no way of escape.”
God is at work in my – our – lives.
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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