Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Refiner's Fire: "Meekness in the Crucible"

Nearly 50 years ago I was introduced to a system of casting gold and other alloys in the field of dentistry. As a freshman dental student, I was issued a ceramic crucible that “fit” on one end of the arm of a centrifugal dental casting “machine.” This crucible resembled a shallow bowl that held a few pennyweights of gold alloy. This “gold” was heated in the flame of a blowtorch to prepare it for casting. As it was heated it changed properties; impurities were burned off and it became a molten mass.

When it reached a certain temperature it took the shape of a ball and the surface became clear as glass. At this point I could see a “perfect” reflection of my face on the surface of this “ball” of molten metal. At this temperature the metal was cast into a permanent dental restoration for a patient.

“A harsh-spirited man is unrefined, coarse; he is not spiritual; he has not a heart of flesh, but a heart as unimpressible as a stone. His only help is to fall on the Rock, and be broken. The Lord will place all such in the crucible, and try them in fire, as gold is tried. When He can see His own image reflected in them He will remove them” (Sons and Daughters of God, p. 100).

Whenever I read this quotation, I think of my experience with dental castings. God is waiting to see an image of His own face in me and in the corporate body of His Church.

Our lesson quarterly has introduced us to “crucibles” and has used many words and concepts defining crucibles. I find it helpful to remember that the stressor is not the stress. I have no control over the stressors of life. The stress can occur in me and I do have control over that possibility. The stressors in my life can only cause stress for me if I allow it. The choice is mine. Of course, it goes without saying that I do have Divine aid available “24/7.”

The trials of life, temptations, hardships, diseases and the like are often seen as “blowtorches” in a “hand” that is trying to destroy us. Even Job thought he might die. The “blowtorch” is not the crucible!

I propose that “the hands of God” surrounding us form the crucible. That crucible experience can transform us if we are willing to remain in “God’s hands.”

Everyone has “blowtorch” experiences. God in His great mercy places His hands around the children He is preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven forming the crucible that can produce the desired result. He is very careful to allow enough “heat” to bring about a change or to shield from too much heat that would destroy us. Remember that the “torch” heats up the crucible as much as the gold alloy being heated for casting. Jesus Christ has experienced and is experiencing all of our “crucible experiences.”

This week we are emphasizing meekness and humility. A quotation from The Desire of Ages, page 646, comes to mind. The setting is the upper room and the foot [feet] washing service. “Their hearts must be cleansed. Pride and self-seeking create dissension and hatred, but all this Jesus washed away in washing their feet. A change of feeling was brought about. Looking upon them, Jesus could say, ‘Ye are clean.’ Now there was union of heart, love for one another. They had become humble and teachable. … Now with subdued and grateful hearts they could receive Christ’s words.”

It seems to me that “meekness” is a very basic quality. It is the foundation or building block for most if not all of the character traits needed for translation and the Kingdom of Heaven. Without meekness and humility, real character growth will not take place or it becomes meaningless if it exists at all. Meekness or humility is a true understanding of one’s genuine value in the sight of God. It is an understanding of the value “Heaven” places on us as children of the King.

All that Jesus Christ has accomplished and is currently accomplishing for us reveals how much God values each lost soul on this earth. An understanding of these accomplishments forms the heart of that “most precious message” that is referred to as the “1888 message.” In the hands of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit we will reflect the character and face of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. It behooves us to stay in God’s hands and not try to escape the crucible we find ourselves in today.

I was so impressed by a quotation we had a few weeks ago that I feel constrained to repeat it here at the close of this small insight. It contains everything! Oh what a precious gift we have in the “Spirit of Prophecy” writings. She said it all.

“Prayer is not an expiation for sin. It is not a penance. We need not come to God as condemned criminals; for Christ has paid the penalty of our transgression. He has made an atonement for us. His blood cleanses from sin. Our prayers are as letters sent from earth, directed to our Father in heaven. The petitions that ascend from sincere, humble hearts will surely reach Him. He can discern the sincerity of His adopted children. He pities our weakness and strengthens our infirmities. He has said, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’” ...

“We are to come to God, not in a spirit of self-justification, but with humility, repenting of our sins. He is able to help us, willing to do for us more than we ask or think. He has the abundance of heaven wherewith to supply our necessities. ... God is holy, and we must pray, ‘lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting’” [1 Tim. 2:8].

These are two paragraphs from Signs of the Times, November 18, 1903. Please read it over and over a few times. (A shortened version is found in In Heavenly Places, p. 71.)

—J. B. Jablonski

(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 10 now in MP3 format. To listen as a podcast click here. To stream click here.