Katie & Briscoe

Katie & Briscoe

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Mysterious, Incredible, Undeniable Hand of God...

I have been a Christian for a long time. I was in my early teens when I got saved and I just turned 40 - you can do the math if you want. In the years since I gave my lift to Christ, I have grown in knowledge and understanding, gaining wisdom that only comes with time and a willingness to admit you need to be taught. Gosh, that sounds kinda arrogant! Let me make myself perfectly clear. I'm not saying I have all the answers, or even a lot of them. Sometimes I wonder if I know anything at all. But I think that's a good place for a Christian to be.
"Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil." Proverbs 3:7 (KJV)
 In Matthew 18, Jesus talks about being humble like a child. While it might be debatable about just how humble most children are today, the fact remains that small children are trusting like no adult. They rely on their parents for everything from food to shelter to love and everything in between. And they do so without hesitation or question. This is what I have come to believe God wants from all of His children. Simple trust that He is always in control, that He loves us, and that He will never, ever do anything that isn't in our best interest. And this is the heart of the wisdom I have gained since my salvation all those years ago.

While I had little understanding or recognition of it at the time, God was planning and working and calling me long before I answered Him. God's like that, you see. He uses all sorts of people, events, and things to catch our attention or to guide us to where He wants us to be. It can be hard to see His hand at work when we are in the middle of all the action. You know that whole "forest for the trees" thing. And it is doubly difficult for a soon to be or new Christian to recognize the evidence of our Lord at work. Newbies or those on the verge of giving in to God rarely have any discernment at all. We just drift along, perhaps feeling the tug of an unseen current, but generally unaware of how or why it is there or where it is taking us. I am profoundly grateful that God has seen fit to let my eyes be opened in regards to this. These days I see His hand everywhere!

There are times when I am practically bursting with joy and thankfulness as I see evidence of Him around me. Sometimes it is just the mere beauty of a day, or the touch of my husband's hand on mine, or the melody or words of a song that come at precisely the moment I need them. Sometimes it's that still, small voice whispering within that gives me some desperately needed bit of guidance, understanding, or comfort. And sometimes it is the odd congruence of multiple events that most would consider coincidence but that I cannot help but attribute to the Creator of the universe. See, I don't believe in luck. I don't much believe in coincidence. I don't subscribe to the eastern philosophy of Karma or fate, but I believe with every fiber of my being that God has a grand plan for every soul on Earth and that He is constantly working in every single life to bring that plan to completion.

All this has led me to be very sensitive to God's movement in my life. I see Him everywhere and in everything. From the song that plays on the radio to the emails friends send me to the random websites that pop up when I'm doing some kind of web search. Sure, there are plenty of things out there that have less to do with God than with this world or even the devil as he tries to lure me away, but so often I see God working in everyday moments.

One of them came today. I got up and picked up my computer to glance through my email. One of my very best friends (and a woman I respect more than she will every know) had forwarded an email to me. I get quite a few things from her, sometimes funny, sometimes touching, sometimes thought provoking, always welcome.

In case there's any doubt, I'm talking about you, Carolyn. Free Smileys

Carolyn is an artist whose work can be found on Etsy, & Craftsu. You can see images of just a small sample of her work on both Flickr and Picasa. She makes "how to" videos of all sorts and video collages of her work which she posts on YouTube. And she has two blogs here at Blogger as well. Carolyn's Canvas is where she shares her crafts, the inspiration behind them, and little bits and pieces of day to day life. The Alabaster Box is where she shares the countless ways God has influenced and touched her life and the way she praises and glorifies Him in return.

If you take the time to read or view much of her stuff, you will quickly find out that she has a rapier wit and a servant's heart. I love both of those parts of her equally. We are never together that we don't laugh repeatedly. Joy and humor are big parts of what get me through my darkest hours but that's another post!

Carolyn sends me emails which she forwards from other friends and family quite often. This morning she sent me one containing a story that I'm fairly sure I've read before. I'll reprint it here so you can share it's message, which is a very good one.

The Refiner's Touch

There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi.  As they were studying chapter three they came across verse three which says, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.
Silver smith putting heat to a silver bowl

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot - then she thought again about the verse, that He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"  He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's the easy part -- when I see my image reflected in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep His hand on you and watch over you until He sees His image in you.

Pass this on right now. This very moment, someone needs to know that God is watching over them, and that whatever they're going through, they'll are NOT ALONE
, and will be a better person in the end.
 The version I received had a quote at the end that was incomplete. I decided to try to look up the story online to see what the rest of that quote was. I found the above version of the story on a site called The Clarion Call. It did not include the quote I was looking for, so I did a different search for it and found it elsewhere.
"Life is a coin. You can spend it anyway you wish, but you can only spend it once."
— Lillian Dickson
 Now, I started out looking for a quote. (I do this kind of thing ALL the time, often with similar results.) At the end of the above story on The Clarion Call was an addendum which follows.

NOTE FROM KAY:  I verified that the information in this story was true.  I contacted a silversmith at www.silversmithing.com and asked if there were any untruths in the silver-smithing parts.

I received the following response from Fred Zweig:  "I am familiar with the verse from Malachi.  The similarities of actual refining and the chapter and verse from the Bible are accurate.  It is important not to overheat the silver when refined in this process and clean molten silver will shine with a mirror-like quality when it is ready to pour.  The high temperatures do volatize the impurities and form on the surface as dross.  It is important to be attentive to the molten metal as it does it no good to overheat it.  It may not destroy the silver, but silver has an affinity for absorbing oxygen and this can make it unworkable."
Being the wildly curious person that I am, I wondered just who Kay was. So I backed out to the home page of The Clarion Call to find out. It turns out she is Kay Meyerett, the creator of the site. I have hardly had a chance to do more than a cursory glance at the site, as it is quite extensive but two things caught my eye right off the bat.

First: At the end of the home menu page I linked to earlier, I read this, "I do know one thing for sure and that is that God brought you here. That must mean there is something here for you!" I am a firm believer in just such things. God leads us where He wants us to go so that we can learn new things about Him or ourselves that can then be used in our spiritual and/or physical lives. I appreciated knowing Kay saw His hand at work as much as I did.

Second: A little further down the page, right before the links that would take one to the various articles, studies, stories, poems, and other things on the site was this:
You need to know how to determine what is true and what is not true about the things of God.  Here's how to:
Determine the Truth of the Matter
My, how I love seeing someone point out the necessity of discernment! So few seem to have it these days. I followed the link and started reading and quickly came across:
Don't believe anything you read here at the Clarion Call.  Don't believe anything you hear at church.  Don't believe anything you hear coming out of any human's mouth!
I am still grinning like a nut even after reading this several times just because I feel a wild rush of appreciation for anyone willing to lay it out so plainly in black and white. She goes on to explain the importance of letting God teach you what is true and what is not. The need of studying and learning the Bible for yourself so that you will be able to recognize the truth when you see it. And the utter necessity of learning to set aside your own sense of logic, fairness, and any and all preconceived notions to allow God to guide you into the understanding needed to be useful to Him.

I don't know Kay. I've just stumbled across her website in what many would consider a matter of happenstance. I read her bio, have not had a chance to read any of her Bible studies, but feel a kinship with her all the same because of the little I have read. I will read more. And in spite of the fact that I like what I've read so far, I will not take anything I read at face value. I will weigh it against the Bible and the whisper of the Holy Spirit within me to determine if it is of use. I will take what is and leave what isn't. But I get the feeling that the useful will outweigh the useless. Because like she said, God brought me there.

And that's what makes me laugh out loud to myself sometimes, and sing at the top of my lungs, and wave my hands to heaven. Because God is there, in the big miracles we see every day, like the whole of creation and the life of Christ, and the person healed of some disease. But He's also there in the moments between the great miracles. In the odd tension in the pit of our stomach that tells us to slow down when we aren't even driving the speed limit so that we can avoid hitting a child that will dart out into the road in front of us only moments later. In the countless little things that pop up to keep us from getting around to going to the store or on a visit or somewhere else where we might have encountered something harmful. In the peace that floods us when we are moments away from a spiritual, emotional, or physical breakdown. In the joy that leads us to praise God when we have every right according to the world and our own human nature to curse Him. And in the seemingly random congruence of a series of events that leads us to a person, place, or even a website were we will find fresh understanding of God.

I'm not posting this to praise Kay Meyerett. Like I said, I don't know her. I could read some of her Bible studies and decide that she's a nut or just plain wrong. But even if all I get from her site is a reminder that God is in control of every moment, every event, every instant of my life, then that's enough.

I pray that everyone else can see God's hand in their life as well. I pray He will reveal Himself to you in a profound way. And I pray that He will continue to reveal Himself to me so that I will never forget how great and wonderful He is.

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