Note: I do not intend for this blog to be religious. However, as my faith is one of the main lights in my darkness, from time to time, you will get my thoughts on religion. I will always note if this is the case and if that bothers you and you do not want to read it, you are welcome to pass it over and return again another day.
I used to envision God as a powerful blacksmith standing at his forge hammering away at souls, trying to form them into beautiful, useful, righteous widgets. His commandments and all of the expectations that He has were a big black iron anvil, the hammer was my required obedience, and I was this hideously misshapen lump of semi-precious metal being pounded and pounded and pounded as He tried to form me into something of value.
All that pounding hurt.
This process as you might imagine hardly made me want to keep the commandments, it hardly made me feel loving toward the blacksmith, and it hardly made me feel like any progress was being made. I kept being broken and hurt and He kept hammering away at me trying to fix me. Except I never felt like I was getting any better.
Do you ever feel that constant pounding? Do you ever feel like you will crumble under the weight of the expectations on you?
There is a scripture in Malachi that is repeated in the Book of Mormon and in the Doctrine and Covenants. When this happens, when the Lord repeats Himself, I assume that it is of special importance. It says, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
Silver is a precious metal. It has intrinsic value whenever or wherever it is found. No amount of impurity can take away its value. Period. But a specific amount of refinement is required to make it useful for a certain purpose.
God is not pounding us to make us into something of value. Our value was never in question in His mind. We are His children. We are precious to Him and there is nothing that we can do to negate our value.
This helped me to rethink my mental image. There is no iron anvil, no pounding hammer. The commandments are the heat that help Him to remove our impurities. They provide a standard to live up to and when combined with the grace of Jesus Christ, they help us to be purified. And obedience is not the process by which He hammers us into who He wants us to be, obedience is the process by which we consecrate our lives to Him.
What if I am the way that He made me so that when He refined me and purified me, I would be fit to serve the purpose He has in mind for me? Would that change the way that I feel about my trials?
This is a painful experience. Some days I am still very angry that this is what the refining process entails. But it means a lot to me to know that He allows me to be tried because He knows my worth and He wants to help me to reach my potential. And it means even more to me to know that “He . . . sit[s] as a refiner of silver,” that I am precious to Him, and that I am always in His care.
Light the Darkness,