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July 13, 2011

Don't Lose Heart...(Guest Blogger Today!)

Hey Friends, Beck Gambill here. I’m stepping in for Susie Larson today and have an insight I’d like to share with you.

Glory hole Please feel free to check out my blog at: Beck's Blog

Do you find yourself in a stage of life that is discouraging; are you ready to quit? Perhaps you're disheartened by hard parenting decisions, a relationship is in trouble, finances have taken a hit, your health has failed. I understand; at one time most of us have been there. Recently I witnessed an extraordinary process. A glass blowing demonstration. Many of us are familiar with the examples in Jeremiah and Isaiah likening mankind to a lump of clay in the potters hand. Isaiah 64:8 says “And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”

Truth lifted itself from the page of scripture to come alive as I watched the craftsman shape the molten glass. He began by gathering a ball of red hot materiel from a furnace that has been burning perpetually for five years. He worked the glass; shaping and manipulating it, reheating and rolling. His breath blowing air into the fiery blob. All the while the glass yielded, changing shape as he labored. After gathering another layer of liquid glass the cylinder was dipped into beads of color.

As the artisan rolled and breathed, swirls of purple and yellow fused, staining the heart of the glass, becoming part of it. He worked using tools and at times his protected hand. He applied his skill, coaxing beauty from nothing. There were moments I thought the vase was finished, and yet the craftsman worked on. Finally, after reheating for the last time, the vase was put in the annealing oven to drop the temperature of the glass gradually to avoid cracking. It was impossible to miss the parallels between the glass's refining process and our own. How often have we resented the long, hot hours in the furnace of life, considering them to be ugly?

Yet from the vantage point of the vase, our refining process is beautiful and intimate. The fire of holiness is forged into our hearts through the painstaking efforts of a Craftsman more skilled than any earthly one. There are four truths God showed me through this living parable that I would like to share with you:

1) First, the glass did nothing except behave exactly the way it should under the circumstance. It yielded to the heat, to the tools, to the worker. Often we fight the flame or the Artisan's hands in fear, when what's required is yielding.

2) I noted the extreme conditions involved in transforming the blob of glass into a fine vase. The crucible, the furnace from which the glass is originally taken, is 2,400 degrees. The glory hole, a slightly cooler furnace, is used for reheating. As well as being heated the glass is also rolled, blown and pulled. The conditions of our personal refinement are also often extreme.

3) The craftsman was a person of skill, talented and committed to the process. He did the work; hot, sweaty, tiring work, resulting in the completion of a beautiful piece of art. He knew the right time to blow air into the ball, to add color and to reheat. Our own transformation rests on the skill and faithfulness of the perfect Craftsman.

4) I couldn't envision the finished product in the beginning. Yet the end result, as well as the process, was more beautiful than I imagined. At times I would have settled with the vase the way it was. Still the artist kept going and the shape was fuller, the color clearer, the size bigger than I would have guessed. In the end it was all worth it!

When you find yourself under fire, and you will, remember these images. Your beauty and usefulness is of value to God. He reheats and shapes as long as necessary, with an eye for what he's creating, using dedication and skill. Don't lose heart in the fire, beauty is on the other side. Is there an area of your life God is refining? How do you respond to the challenges you are facing?

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Comments

Beck,
Thanks for introducing me to Susie's blog! Growing Grateful kids has changed the way I parent...loved it.

Outwardly, I usually rise to just about every challenge with poise and a together attitude. However, inwardly, I am in total panic mode. Thanks for sharing your words and encouragement here today.

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