A few weeks ago, I attended a retreat for the Baptist ladies of Oklahoma. It was a powerful time for many, including myself.
During our time there, they showed a video (which I had seen previously, thanks to a wonderful friend who had already shared on her blog how God had touched her through the same message - He sure does make beautiful things, regardless of the distance). The video likens the process of blowing glass, particularly the molding of previously broken pieces into a beautiful work of art, redeemed elegance they call it, to our lives in Christ - as pieces broken through the process of life, molded together into something more precious than we could have imagined.
As the artist described the process, he emphasized the name for the heating chamber into which the work-in-progress is placed - the Glory hole. And he says this, "You put a piece of glass inside that glory hole, I promise you this: it's going to change."
We never step away from His Glory unchanged.
What none of us knew as we watched that video in the auditorium on Saturday, speaking of the changing power of this extreme heat, was that before the week was over, we would all be put through the fire.
One week later, after tragedy coursed through our veins, spilled our tears, I found myself physically in a glass-blowing shop, remembering those words and realizing just how differently I was feeling them now.
And as I watched, these artisans took a firm, brittle, immutable stick of solid glass and put it into that Glory hole for one purpose. It wasn't to punish the glass, it was so they could transform it into something new, something use-able. What was once simple and straight and ordinary was shaped by their careful hands, arced into something of beauty and, still burning with the heat of the fire, was attached as the handle to a pitcher. The purpose-less became purposeful. The ordinary became indispensable. And in joining together through the heat, the pitcher and the handle became one - a beautiful, yet functional, piece of art.
What God spoke to me in that moment was this - we must go through the fire if He is going to change us for His purpose.
Where we are unbending, the fires of life make us moldable, they allow Him to shape us. Some of these fires are stoked by God Himself, others are brought on by the darkness of our fallen world, but God can always use the heat to form us, if we allow Him.
If we are to be used by Him, we must be molded by Him.
It is our choice - will we permit the fires of this life to melt us into an inglorious heap, or will we place ourselves into the hands of the master Craftsman, the only One Who can make us into something beautiful - His redeemed elegance?