Look at that shiny ring of gold on your finger, the one he placed there the day you said “I do”. It’s a symbol of commitment, the circle representing unending love. Did you ever imagine saying “I do” would put you in the Refiner’s Fire?
Do you remember the day he proposed?
That special ring was given to you in one of the most romantic moments of your life.
Did he surprise you, dropping to one knee when you least expected it?
Maybe you picked it out together while clutching hands as you peered into a lighted case ablaze with diamonds.
Over the years, it’s been through some stuff.
- Scuffed and scratched by life
- It’s seen good days and bad
- Some years it was adjusted and carefully buffed
- In other years it’s so much a part of your day-to-day that you forget it’s even there.
That, too, is a symbol of the commitment of marriage. The longer you’ve had it the more precious it’s become. It changes you. There’s a groove around the fourth finger of your left hand that wasn’t there before.
It is a symbol of your love
It hides an even deeper truth about the commitment of marriage. Slip it off your finger for a minute. Look at the inside, the part that rests against your skin.
Do you see it?
- No matter how long you’ve been married
- Even if the outside of your ring has lost its shine
—the inside is smooth, soft, pure
Because the gold that forms that ring has been through the refiner’s fire, literally.
Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines refined; refining;
1:to free (something, such as metal, sugar, or oil) from impurities or unwanted material
2:to free from moral imperfection :elevate
3:to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing
I hadn’t thought much about the process that gold goes through until my son built a forge in our backyard. We’re a homeschooling family, so this wasn’t too far out of the ordinary for us 😉
There was a pillar of fire in our yard several times a week as he experimented with heating metal. He pulling red-hot iron from the flames of the forge and pounding it flat. He plunged it into water so that great clouds of steam rose up—then beginning the process all over again. To be strong, a sword must be repeatedly heated and pounded.
But it was when he bought a crucible that I saw it: What the Bible tells us about refining.
I watched as he put chunks of shiny aluminum into the crucible. I picked one up and held it in my hand. It looked like any other piece of metal.
As it heated in the refiner’s fire, something changed. He pulled the crucible from the flames using a pair of tongs, and showed me:
The seemingly perfect, shiny metal had melted. I expected to see a silvery lake of aluminum there in the crucible. Instead, I was looking at a frothy layer of thick, black, ugly scum!
This, he explained, is the product of all the impurities in the metal—impurities that were invisible before the heat of the fire. The heat separated them from the aluminum and sent them floating to the top. The dross looked nothing like the smooth silver metal that had gone into the refiner’s fire. It was disgusting! How had it been hiding in what looked so shiny just a moment ago?
Let’s learn from the lustrous sheen of our wedding rings:
Marriage is a forge in which the dross burns away.
As shiny as we look going into this, we’re as full of impurities as that aluminum was.
You can’t see it on the outside. It’s a built-in part of our hearts in this fallen world, so much so that we might never know it was there.
We might be content to live with it, never thinking twice about it at all.
But God isn’t content to leave us there.
The dross is not only full of impurities and ugliness, it also makes us weaker! Like the heating and pounding of an iron sword, the process of refining makes the metal stronger. To be strong, we must be heated and pounded and heated again.
Our walk with the Lord is a process of lifelong refining
And our Christian marriage? Crucibles for our hearts to be tempered. The Lord uses our spouse to bring to the surface what we didn’t know was there.
To strip down layers of dross to the simple, pure love Jesus models for us.
The heat of living with someone, the fire of trials and tribulations, the blaze of those vows (in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer) are the heat that breaks down what looks so solid and sends the ugly dross of sin bubbling to the top.
Nobody wants to go through the furnace of affliction.
Misunderstandings, infidelity, selfishness, failed businesses, a medical crisis, that stack of bills, late nights with colicky babies, tears wept over prodigal children, caring for aging parents, the arguments where words cut to the quick and forgiveness seems next to impossible—these are the flames that make you want to run, to douse the fire and escape the heat.
But it’s these very trials that are the “furnace of affliction” the prophet Isaiah is speaking about!
What if we surrendered to the heat, rather than fighting the flames?
What if we went into marriage knowing that we, and our spouse, are both full of both dross and gold?
That the words “I do” are both an invitation to joy and a surrendering to the refiner’s fire?
Friend, if you find yourself in the crucible today, remember that God is at work in your life. He sees you, and He’s with you. Let go of the dross, and know that you will be stronger for the flames.
Lord, I pray for the marriages that are experiencing the furnace of affliction today. Please, soften hearts and heal hurts. Separate us from the dross of sin, and refine our hearts together—with our husbands, and with You.
What an amazing analogy Erica! Those things will forever be connected in my mind now.
We are in a 30 day Series called Reclaiming Hope & Joy in Your Marriage
Here are a few of the Articles so Far:
Chase Jesus When Your Marriage Is on the Brink
Biblical Submission When Trusting Your Husband Is Hard
Marriage Communication: Why & How to Restore It
How To Face An Empty Nest And Renew Your Marriage
4 Marriage Secrets so You Never Say That Dirty “D” Word
1 Thing to Never allow to Rule Your Marriage
4 Essential Steps To Become One Flesh in Marriage
Finding Hope, Grace, Renewed Love and Purpose
3 Things That Make a Marriage Wonderful
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