Friday, May 21, 2010

The Furnace Mouth

This morning my Puritan prayer contained the following:

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that
all things are shadows, but thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but thou art wisdom.

I found this a great reminder in the tsunami of chaos enveloping our world and nation right now. I hear the Psalmist: Even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.

The next lines in this Puritan prayer are:

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat,
so be it,
but do thou sit at the furnace mouth
to watch the ore that nothing be lost.

This image of God sitting at the furnace mouth spoke to me on various levels.

Yesterday I spent some time with a dear friend who means more to me than he’ll ever know – at least in this life he probably won’t realize it. We were talking about things in our past that we deeply regret and how that at times those things will come back to us in Technicolor, not with a sense of condemnation for we know Christ has taken care of our sin and guilt; but rather with a deeper awareness of what was actually involved in whatever the thing might be followed by a sense of the grace, mercy and redemption we have in Jesus Christ – it is as if the Father and Christ are reminding us from where and what they have redeemed us and of their great love and grace in our lives. And so the image of God sitting at the furnace mouth and using the things in my life that I’d really rather forget to transform me into the image of Christ gives me hope both for myself and for people I have hurt or sinned against during my life.

Psalm 12:6 reads, “The words of Yahweh are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” I wonder if there isn’t a sense in which the Word of Yahweh, which He deposits in His sons and daughters, isn’t tried in our earthen vessels. Not that the Word of God in and of itself requires purification, but perhaps God’s words are heated white hot in order to be burned into our lives? This in turn reminds me of Psalm 105:19, regarding Joseph:

They afflicted his feet with fetters, he himself was laid in irons; until the time that His word came to pass, the word of Yahweh refined him.

It isn’t that the Word of Yahweh is refined; it is that the Word refines us through fire, through testing, to conform us to the image of Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:29).

I want the Father and Lord Jesus at the mouth of the furnace; I desire that they ensure that no ore – none of the materials of this life – will be wasted, that nothing will be lost.

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