My friend, author and fellow LITle Krishana Kraft messaged me this morning and asked if I had any prayer requests.
Ya’ll will not be surprised to know that my answer was wordy.
“…I think God is smelting out my people pleasing tendencies and some pride issues right now. Both very ingrained, deep issues that I try to keep tamped down to an ‘acceptable christian level’…they are being brought to the surface which invariable ends up with me in tears or self-righteous indignation. Blech. Refining hurts. Anyway, pray that God just deals with them. Either could be the death of my ministry if not addressed but I’m wary of the refiner’s fire. You know what I mean? Working on pride generally means one humbling after the other.”
I hit send on that diatribe, then paused and thought about what I was saying.
Quickly I sent a second text: “So…um…in synopsis? Lord, refine Kate, but not TOO hot.”
That’s not too much to ask, right? I understand the importance of being refined. I know that the death of my pride and my incessant need to please people rather than God is vital to my spiritual well-being and growth. I want God to change me.
And Scripture is clear that one big way God changes us is by refining us through fire.
And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” ~Zechariah 13:9
The results of this refining process are beautiful. I want to be pure and valuable like silver or gold. Honestly, I do! But, seriously, ya’ll, I don’t like the refining process. It’s uncomfortable. It’s down right painful. It’s TOO hot.
Metal is refined through a process known as smelting, and one thing I know about smelting is that it requires heat. Check out the video if you want to learn more about the process.
Scripture promises that God loves us enough to smelt us. In Isaiah, God warns His rebellious people:
I will also turn My hand against you,
And will smelt away your dross as with lye
And will remove all your alloy. ~Isaiah 1:25
Don’t think refining is only the work of God the Father, even gentle Jesus takes part. The prophet Malachi foretold Christ’s role as a master blacksmith, smelting his people.
“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter 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 3:1-3
I’ve been asking God to smelt me on medium-low.
Which led me to wonder, how much heat does it take to refine metal? Turns out, according to Engineer tool box*, that the exact melting point depends on the type of metal, but in just about every case, it’s a Whole. Lotta. Heat.
A whole lotta heat, ya’ll. Serious fire. Check out some of the melting points of common metals.
- Tin 449° F
- Lead 621° F
- Aluminum 1220° F
- Silver 1761° F
- Gold 1945° F
- Copper 1983° F
- Cobalt 2723° F
- Stainless steel 2750° F
- Platinum 3220° F
Let’s give ourselves a reference point, shall we? The all time record high temperature in Phoenix, Arizona which, trust me, feels like living on the sun, is only 122° F**. Water boils at just 212° F. My oven can get up to 550° F, hot enough char off all those food drippings in a self-clean cycle or even melt tin, but no match for most metals. Even a roaring wood bonfire, only reaches temperatures around 1100° F***- hot enough to light the night and heat up your campground but not even enough energy to melt aluminum.
And I get the feeling that my entrenched sin issues are the dross in hardier stuff than aluminum. No, they aren’t encased in bendable, pliable, crushable little soda cans, these lifelong stumbling blocks of mine. They’ve got to be embedded in stainless steel or even platinum, which don’t reach a melting point until the fire is ferocious.
Ya’ll, I don’t even like my coffee at a normal temperature. I’m constantly begging the baristas at my favorite cafe to make my latte at kid temp to spare my poor sensitive tongue. How am I ever supposed to handle the high temperatures needed to refine me?
Krishana’s response to my prayer request perfectly met and answered that fear.
She messaged me back, “HE walks through fire with you. I think of Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego…grateful HE is a God who can take our, ‘It is tooo hot, Lord!!!’… HE is walking you deeper into prayer at a time when HE is also refining. Wow!!… HE is equipping you for every ‘too hot to bear’ moment.”
The clincher came when she texted again, “Because HE can bear it.”
And she’s absolutely right. He CAN bear it.
(Nothing like a wise friend, eh? Get to know Krishana Kraft better by picking up a copy of her new book, Tandem Living! It’s an amazing story of her walk with God through cancer. I know it will encourage you as it did me to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.)
If you’ve been in Christian circles any length of time, you’ve heard the story Krishana referred to. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar for refusing to bow down to idols. The furnace was stoked hotter and hotter and hotter- seven times hotter than usual- and the men were tossed in, bound and helpless, in an attempt to destroy them completely.
By all rights, they should have died instantly. On their own, they were utterly incapable of withstanding such heat.
Yet the story has a surprise ending. Don’t miss the miracle of it because you’ve heard it so many times before!
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?” They replied to the king, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” ~Daniel 3:24-25
They were not alone in the fire. They had company, a fourth man whose appearance was “like a son of the gods.” I’m willing to bet that that wasn’t just his appearance, rather the fourth figure was indeed THE Son of God.
Jesus Christ himself accompanied them right into the furnace.
And He will be with me as I pass through my refiner’s fire.
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire. ~Daniel 3:26
When these three faithful men emerged from the blaze unscathed everyone who saw it knew to whom they belonged. The king himself, idol worshiper, who did not previously even believe in the God of Israel, made an instant 180 after witnessing these men in the midst of the flames. Talk about changing his tune, he calls them “You servants of the Most High God”!
I may never know how my (often public) refining is used for the glory of God. Who is watching me walk through my fire? Who is witnessing how I am never alone, even in the furnace? Who will have the blinders removed from their eyes after scrutinizing my struggles?
The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them. ~Daniel 3:27
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego walked straight out of those flames without a scorch mark on them. Even better, they had gone in restrained, tied up, and unable to move. Yet they walked out of the flames unbound. All the restraints that had been holding them were burned away.
Yes, God will use the fires of my life to bring my impurities to the surface so they can be skimmed away. It may be uncomfortable but I don’t have to be afraid of the process. I can rest assured that if I am submitting myself to the Lord’s smelting process, I will emerge from the flames unharmed. Beyond that, I can walk from them finally unrestrained and unbound!
There is no reason to fear the refiner’s fire.
*Melting points from http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/melting-temperature-metals-d_860.html
**According to https://phoenix-az.knoji.com/10-alltime-hottest-weather-temperature-days-in-phoenix/