This morning our new chaplain spoke at the contemporary Protestant worship service we attend on base. After hearing two of his sermons, I can tell we will be challenged to grow deeper in our faith and understanding of God's Word under his leadership.
His current series is on Ephesians. Today the part that stood out to me involved the analogy of a silversmith refining silver. I've heard many times before that God uses trials to refine us, to get rid of impurities and shape us, the way silver and gold is refined in the fire. But I loved how today's story ended. The question for the silversmith was, "How do you know you are finished removing the impurities?" In other words, "When is the refining process over?"
The answer? "When I can see my likeness as I look into the reflection."
God is refining His children, and He won't stop until He looks inside and sees His reflection--the image of Christ. What a beautiful reminder that in the middle of the "heat" of life, when all of our imperfections are being driven to the surface because of the fires we are facing, our heavenly Refiner is carefully stirring our hearts, making us more like our Savior.
The practical application I took away from this is that our family is no longer in a season of "dramatic" fire; a year ago we were in the fiery furnace with Ted being on the other side of the world and me struggling to nurse Baby Zaden and keep my family together. Now, we are physically together--and experiencing a bit more togetherness than we might like, LOL!
Living in a small apartment is definitely causing our impurities to come to the surface. We bicker and argue. We complain and moan. We sigh and accuse. We misunderstand one another. We annoy each other (sometimes even on purpose!). We daily come face to face with our sinful, selfish human nature. We yearn for the day when we will move into a larger house, surrounded by all of the possessions that make us comfortable and happy.
And yet...will we really be comfortable and happy simply because we have more elbow room? Life might be "easier," but will we be forced to do the hard work of living peaceably together if we can simply walk away to another room?
That's a bit uncomfortable, isn't it? The fact is, living "squished" is a much better means of refining those impurities. I have many more occasions to choose to speak with a loving and gentle tone. The children have more opportunities to choose to share their few toys. We all have more chances to humble ourselves and show honor and preference to others.
When I think about it, there is more room to show love, mercy, and grace in a small house than in a large one!