The smoothing and refining process
If you have ever stood on sharp glass you know just how painful it is. It really has no use or function at all, yet when it has been smoothed and tumbled in the sea for many years it becomes a translucent thing of beauty. Sea glass is a beautiful, rare, sought after treasure which sometimes you come across on our beaches.
I have a beautiful friend who has a very tough health journey. She has lost several people whom she loved deeply and has known the deepest of sorrow. When she found Jesus several years ago he took her on a journey of restoration, because like many of us, she was broken by life and sadness.
Part of her healing journey has been to take long walks along our beautiful coastline. There she started to find small pieces of ‘sea glass’ – glass that has somehow ended up in the sea and has been broken and smoothed down by the constant grinding motion of the tides. She has started to build up quite a collection of these sea treasures and her story inspired me to write about the painful but also healing process of being refined.
When I became a Christian there were many sharp edges to me. I was prickly, critical, resentful and carried a giant chip on my shoulder. Life had done me wrong and it was everybody else’s fault (or so I thought) I just could not accept that some of my pain was due to my own stupid choices and selfishness.
Ah, but then along came Jesus. And just like that sea glass, he tenderly picked me up and placed me into the tumbler of circumstances. Giant waves, huge rocks and king tides of great strength began to toss me around. But slowly the miracle happened. As the sharpness was chipped away, and as I was tumbled along in the sand along with other sharp and prickly believers, I started to become softer and more mellow. He started a process in order to smooth me out so that I could be a person with a beautiful and refined soul, a treasure in his kingdom.
And like the treasures that my friend picks up on her daily walks, these smooth and refined believers are often quite hard to find. Why? Because it hurts and sometimes it costs you much pain as that protective shell that you have built up in order to cope with your life situation is painfully eroded away. Ouch! Some believers give up and walk away from the process because at times it can be so very painful. Most of us who are a little smoother and clearer these days can attest that it hurt at times, but oh my dear friends, in retrospect it was worth it.
Ah, but the beauty of that translucent piece of sea glass. Hold it up to the light streaming down from the sky and you will see the softest of glows. Hold it in your hand and it will feel smooth and lovely, a beautiful thing to hold, and something that brings joy to your heart. It has value, it has endured the process and now it is a thing to inspire and bring light into your life.
Are you in the process of being refined and smoothed? If you are, then it is a time to trust in the tide and the sea. It is a time to know that although it is painful and abrasive and at times overwhelming, you are never out of the master craft man’s sight because you are his treasure, his joy and his loved one. He paid so much for you, you are of great value and worth to him, but as a refined treasure, you are worth even more.
Tenderly he watches and nurtures you through the process of refining you. 1 Peter 5:10 states “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you.”
And Romans 5: 1 – 5 We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are very happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. 3 And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. 4 And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. 5 And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave us.”
So dear friends there is a purpose to the refining and smoothing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can be held up to the light and be blameless in the eyes of the world because we are emulating our saviour Jesus. We can be soft and gentle in a challenging situation because our sharp edges are smoothed away. And we can rest as an ornament in the heavenly crown of God because of the thing of beauty he has created in us – the reflection of his entire being. We are not refined to become a more beautiful version of ourselves, but to be carriers of that heavenly light that comes from knowing his heart and responding to that love.