Proverbs 17:3 – The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
One day, a couple, visiting in a small town, stopped in a quaint little shop to browse around. In the center of the store was a display of teacups. Some were small, some large, some were quite ornate, others were plain, but in the center was the most beautiful of all. The couple was overwhelmed by the dainty shape of the cup, the slight curve of the handle, the ornate and detailed painting and the delicate nature. They stared at it while they contemplated who could have made such a beautiful piece of work.
As they stared, suddenly the teacup began to talk to them. "I wasn't," it stated, "always like this. If you had seen me in the beginning, you would not recognize me and you would never think I could ever look as I do now. But because my Master worked on me constantly, I appear before you as I am.
"I started out as a piece of clay. Nothing special, I sat in a lump along with my other clay friends (you really couldn't tell us apart). He pulled me away from them, it was painful. I cried because I was lonely.
"He pulled me and rolled me. I screamed, 'Stop it! You're hurting me!' But He said, 'Not yet.' He changed my shape and smoothed my form with his hands. I was happy when he was finished. I thought, 'Finally, that's over.'
"But then he lifted me up and put me in an oven. It was soooo hot! I started yelling, 'Get me out of here! I don't want to do this!' I could see him watching me through the window and he said, 'Not yet.' I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the oven, but I did.
"When it was finished, he took me out to cool. Ahh, the air felt good to me. I sat beside him and smiled. 'Finally, I can relax.' Then he picked me up again! 'Oh no!' I thought, 'what now!' He started painting me. I couldn't believe it. Totally changing my appearance. It smelled so bad! I kept fussing, 'Stop it, stop it!' But he didn't. I was covered in paint! I asked if he was finished, if he was satisfied with what he had done to me. He smiled and said, 'Not yet.'
"And do you know what he did after that, even though I kept fussing the whole time? He put me back in the oven! He put me back, and this time it was even hotter! I cried. I begged. I pleaded, 'Please stop!' But he just kept smiling and said, 'Not yet.'
"Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he pulled me out of the oven. I gasped for air. I was so thankful that it was over. He set me on a shelf and let me cool. Later he gently wiped me with a soft cloth until my surface was shiny and sparkled. When he lifted me again, I thought, 'Oh no, what now?' He placed me in front of a mirror so that I could see myself and I cried at the beauty that I beheld. I was perfect. I was clean. My form was graceful and elegant. My shape was unique. I noticed a bit of Him in my form. It was strong, but delicate. The detail of the painting was amazing. Even down to the smallest detail, He had made me beautiful. He had made me reflect Him.
"I thanked Him for all He had done and I felt ashamed because I had questioned Him during my transformation. I had questioned my strength during my time in the oven. I had complained when He pulled me away from my friends. I fought Him while He tried to change my form and had refused to bend at His command. Now I beheld myself and I regretted fighting and doubting everything He had tried to do for me.
"I wanted to do something for Him, but it looked as if he was finished with me. Surely, nothing more needed to be done. But I asked Him, 'Lord, are you done? Will you now leave me to sit on a shelf?' and He said, 'Not yet. I will not leave you; I will not forsake you. I will not give you more than you can bear. I will reward you for your patience; I will bless you for your tenacity; I will shower you with gifts for your trust in me; I will honour you for your willingness to do my will. I will use you, yes I will use you, time and again, to glorify me. Am I finished with you, Beloved? Not yet.'"
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. (James 4:10)
Prayer: Use me Father. Mold me, hold me, shape me, bend me, stretch me to my utmost. I know that I am not worthy, but I submit myself to you and kneel ready to be changed. Amen.