Crucible (Messy Revival)

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart (Proverbs 17:3).”

Purify my heart, let me be as gold and precious silver.
Refiner’s fire – my heart’s one desire is to be holy,
Set apart for You, Lord, ready to do Your will.
(Refiner’s Fire, by Brian Doerksen)

The process of refining silver, in the era when the book of Proverbs was written, is an evocative picture of how our hearts are refined. It’s a “made for sermon illustration” metaphor that I really like. A skilled refiner purifies silver by bringing heat to bear on the raw metal. As the heat increases, impurities rise to the surface, and the refiner skims them off. The process is repeated until the desired result is achieved: a clear reflection of the refiner’s face.

The spiritual parallel is stunning – God refining our character until He sees a clear reflection of Jesus in us. Awesome! But as anyone who has experienced the refining process can tell you, when the heat gets turned up, it’s uncomfortable.

(That’s an understatement of, shall we say, “biblical proportions.”)

At the same time, achieving the desired result makes the uncomfortable process worth it in the end. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).”

Whenever we pray for more of the Spirit’s power and presence in our lives, it shouldn’t surprise us when the heat gets turned up and some of our inner schtuff flares up in our face. That’s how it works, after all.

More of the Spirit’s work = more refining. It’s part of the package. Mountain top moments are exhilarating, but difficult valleys are equally a part of the Spirit’s work in our lives.

Which is why things can get wild and woolly during times of revival. The Holy Spirit is poured out in ways that go beyond “typical” — the “omni” presence of God becomes the “manifest” presence – and there’s a wide range of reactions and maturity among believers.

Sin will be stirred up by the Enemy, trying his darndest to discredit what the Spirit’s doing. And critics of renewal movements delight in pointing this out, as if the presence of sinful activity “proves” that God isn’t involved.

Sin will also be stirred up by the Holy Spirit’s presence, so it can be dealt with. That’s what a good Refiner does.

Revival is always connected to repentance. Whether it’s people coming to faith for the first time, or believers having the low-burning embers of their faith fanned into flame again, repentance unto a holy life is normal.

There should be nothing shocking when sinful patterns are forced to the surface during times of revival/renewal. That’s how the Refiner’s fire works.

The heat is on.

If you’re crying out for more of the Spirit, and sin & temptation seem to flare up – don’t rebuke the devil (except where appropriate), and don’t get discouraged. Instead, recognize the Refiner’s hand and co-operate with His purifying work.

The heat is on, but the results will be worth it.

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