I trust that you all had a refreshing and relaxing Christmas Break. For me and my husband, it was very different than usual. Normally we travel to the US to spend Christmas with one of our children, or we travel to a new place in Europe to experience Christmas in another country. This year, my husband had surgery and was still in the recovery period, so we stayed here for the holidays. Every year, he paints a scene in Vienna for the staff as a Christmas gift, and this year he was running behind because of the surgery, so he spent most of our vacation painting. (Do you know what this is a picture of?)
Well, I knew that I would need something to keep me busy, so I started by watching a TV show about different crafts. They featured woodworking, stain glass, painting, and polymer clay. I chose clay. I ordered a few supplies and a kit of polymer clay. (Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!) My first many attempts did not look anything like the pictures. Frustration set in. I ordered some more supplies. I kept at it, going back to some of the techniques where I had failed in my initial attempts. Every day for two weeks, I molded the clay, put it through the pasta maker (yes, that’s what you use to flatten the clay!), pushed it through the extractor, and tried to follow the instructions as best I could. Little by little, my finished projects started to improve.
The final step in the process is to bake the clay for exactly 15 minutes at 150 degrees Celcius. I set my stopwatch so that I wouldn’t ruin what I had made. In the end, I came away with a few pairs of earrings that were actually wearable! I even gave one to a friend as a birthday gift.
I got to thinking about the process that God uses to mold us and to form us more into the image of His Son. Sometimes what we go through in life doesn’t feel very nice, like the clay being stretched and flattened by the pasta maker. Sometimes what we experience feels almost like we will break because we can’t take anymore, like being squished in the extractor. But it is the very act of conditioning the clay, molding it, pressing it, slicing it, and eventually baking it that makes the object hard and useful.
In the Bible, God promises us that “when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2) Then in I Peter: 6-7, it says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
So, as we begin another year with new resolutions or goals and with the hope that the Covid situation will be better, I encourage us all to remember that God uses the trials in our life to conform us more into the Image of His Son. He refines us so He can use us to help others and to bring glory to His Name. Let’s keep our eyes on the ultimate goal – the finished product that God will welcome into Heaven. It will be beautiful.
Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon Brobst, Director