One day we took the children to see a goldsmith refine gold after the ancient manner of the East. He was sitting beside his little charcoal-fire. (He shall sit as a refiner: the gold or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire.) In the red glow lay a common curved roof-tile; another tile covered it like a lid. This was the crucible. In it was the medicine made of salt, tamarind fruit and burnt brick-dust, and embedded in it was the gold. The medicine does its appointed work on the gold, "then the fire eats it," and the goldsmith lifts the gold out with a pair of tongs, lets it cool, rubs it between his fingers, and if not satisfied puts it back again in fresh medicine. This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible the heat of the fire is increased: "It could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now." "How do you know when the gold is purified?" we asked him, and he answered, "When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure" (pp.69-70.)
For a variation on the theme from my poetry stash, try this on for size:
Sonnet from the Fire
How hot the flames burn round my alloyed soul!
My heart churns wildly—restless, tossed with fears,
Dross rising to the surface, bathed in tears.
I cry out, “Jesus, cleanse me; make me whole!”
The skilled Refiner’s hand still stokes the fire;
The flames I think unbearable climb higher.
Still more dross rises; will there be no end
To fiercer heat that purges hidden sin?
“Dost thou not know?” the Master Smith inquires.
“The kettle bears the fiercest heat, not thee.
Thou know'st no flame save that which scorches Me.
I know thy nature; thou wilt stand the fire.
Thou shalt not perish, but shall shine forth grace
When once I look on thee and see My face.”
Beloved, if this finds you in the midst of the heat of affliction, may God grant you comfort in His presence in the furnace with you, in His wisdom to know exactly how much will refine and how much will destroy, and in His sure promise that eternity will reveal the brevity of these trials and the greater glory gained through them. I don't know what you are walking through, but the Lord Jesus does, and He is near to all who call.
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