Once I saw an old cast iron skillet pulled out of a clump of weeds. It was in horrible shape from being out in the elements—probably for years. Brilliant orange with rust, I thought (in my inexperience) that it should be thrown out. However the guide who picked it up was far wiser than I and took it back to camp where he stuck it in the hot coals of the campfire.
After heating the pan he scrubbed it, flaking off bits of corroded iron and crusty stuff, and then oiled it. He then stuck it back over the fire to allow the oil to penetrate deeply into the iron pores. He took the pan out, scrubbed it some more, oiled it again and reheated it.
The brilliant orange was gone, the skillet was now a glossy black and useful once again for the purpose it was made for. Frying! (Bacon! Glorious Bacon!)
This method is called seasoning. It requires heat and grease and more heat. The seasoning is what flavors the food and keeps it from sticking. Furthermore, when the pan is seasoned it is protected from elements that would ruin it, such as water or acidic foods.
There’s a number of verses in the Bible that talk about being refined like silver or gold through fire. Well, I don’t know the methods of refining precious metals very well, but I am familiar with cast iron pans and seasoning.
So in my head when it talks about God refining us, I just think about Him re-seasoning me.
He picked me out of the weeds in horrible shape—unfit for anything—purposeless. He stuck me in fire, scrubbed me of imperfections and blemishes, oiled me with His grace and mercy and made me right again—ready for the purpose I was made for. And if I fall back into that horrible state, well He sure as doesn’t throw me out, but sets to work re-seasoning me! A little more fire to refine, a little more grace and mercy to cleanse, and a little more heat to set that grace deep into my pores. In the end I should have a good coat of seasoning on me, one that stands up to the elements that would try to ruin me.
“ For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us as silver is tried, refined, and purified.” Psalm 66:10 (AMP)
“The testing will refine, cleanse, and purify those who keep their heads on straight and stay true,” Daniel 11:35 (MSG)
“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. ” 1 Peter 1:7 (MSG)