During a recent week-long get-away in Florida, I sat mesmerized in a brutally hot workshop of several glass blowers. The nondescript cement floor became the artists platform for beauty, while ugly tables and tools crafted the most delicate pieces of art. While most of the audience who sat on the bleachers watching the two craftsmen at their trade probably found themselves intrigued by the emerging color patterns on the glass sculptures or the teamwork required to create just one small piece of blown glass, I was drawn in by a completely different source. Flames drew me. Heat around 2,000 degrees. Plunging stainless steel rods and molten glass.
Into the flames over and over again.
Even as the glass sculpture began to take shape, the artists would quickly plunge it back into the flames. My heart caught, as I feared that they would ruin the beauty they were creating, mar the exquisite piece in their hands. I questioned the craftsmen, even as my mind knew better. “This is their trade,” I thought. “They know what they are doing.”
A fluted flower piece plunged in again. Into the flames.
“The glass must always remain malleable,” the artists explained. “Or it will shatter on the ground before the craftsmen have finished creating its intricacies and molding its foundation.”
Must always remain malleable. I eyed the scorching kiln again with a bit more respect just in time to be caught by the next tidbit of information.
“The opening to the kiln is called the ‘Glory Hole,'” the craftsmen remarked, as they once again inserted the glass into the heat.
“The Glory Hole? Really? Must something so painful be truly named thus? What is so glorious about penetrating flames, making malleable that which wants to form before its time?” I questioned.
Even as I asked, I knew the answers. In early blog posts this year, the Lord had already been teaching me about refining fire (click here to read more). I once again sensed His gentle whisper in the barrenness of this workshop.
“The fire is My Glory Hole, as I fashion and form beauty in My time and in My way. Without the flames, you would shatter before your time.”
For the past several years, I have continually thought, “Oh good, I’m so glad that painful, difficult season is over. I’m ready for some joy and easy walking about now. I’ve been refined for a season, but now it is time for beauty.”
I’m plunged into the flames again and again. Some would say without mercy. The wise would say with a purpose. The heat is full of glory.
How I long to be withdrawn and find myself formed into the most exquisite design! How I long to be placed in the cooling oven to revel in the beauty I have taken on!
In His time. Plunged in ’till a foundation is ready. Given over to the heat to maintain malleability.
I am undone.
In these moments of weakness, plunge me back into the flames lest I shatter! Make me beautiful in Your time and in Your way. Sustain me with Your Peace, as You allow the heat to bring glory. Truly, as Paul requested, may I be a living sacrifice…holy, acceptable, for this is my reasonable service.
Help me to trust, as I feel as dreams and hopes are burned to ashes. When I look around and see more finished art pieces, may I not question the process that I require to mold me. Who am I to judge?
*All photo images copied from the artist’s website http://www.chihuly.com/.