I have always thought of refining as a painful process (you can read about walking into the refining fire here). When you think about going through a difficult time, and how God makes you all the better for it, that’s refining. When you melt gold at a ridiculously high temperature, so that it separates and the dross rises to the surface, that’s refining too. When you and your sister try hard not to laugh out loud at a wedding, because that would be totally, socially unacceptable, so instead your shoulders shake and tears run down your face as you gasp for air…that is probably a lack of refinement. But that is a different story all together.
Refining makes things better. And in the end, better is…well, better (I know—where do I get all these gems, right?). But recently I learned to appreciate the idea of refining a bit more, so I hope I can tell it in such a way that makes sense to you. Here goes…
I wrote a lot about Integrity last year. My takeaway from my study of Integrity was that doing right might look harder than going your own way, but in truth, doing right brings wholeness and stability—God’s way is the way of blessing. Refining has some hidden value too.
Recently a literary agent reviewed my website for me. She didn’t have to do this because I am not her client. She spent over an hour on the phone with me giving me feedback, challenging me, and encouraging me. She suggested I refine my message and that I refine my website to better communicate that message. Though it was criticism, what she said wasn’t hard to hear, because everything she said I already knew in my heart. I just was lacking the courage/motivation/gumption to do anything about it.
So, refining means change, and change requires humbling and hard work. Of course it is for the best, to become better, but…
the unexpected reward of refining is authenticity
It feels good to be what you were meant to be. It feels right to shed those (comfortable, safe) ways that are hindering you, even if it means stepping out in faith and taking a risk. Refining really does make things better!
Next time…more on how things are changing around here (how I am being refined in the process) and hope for all of us, as God eliminates things that interfere with the communication of His message. How about you—are you being refined in some area of your life?