A mind blowing experience . . .
It was October in 2011. I was in the best of places and the worst of places at the same time. I was traveling with my friends just after finishing a conference in Switzerland. We’d driven down to Venice for a few days and while there, went to the island of Murano, home of the world famous glass artisans.
I was in a terrible mental and emotional state. It had been almost two years after losing my wife to the terminus of cancer. On top of all that I was working in a new business venture that was also dying back in the states and I’m traipsing through Europe with a mind that could not focus on where I was or what I was doing. I could not be present! One of my friends compared me to Job sitting on an ash heap. That was pretty accurate. I remember vividly what life felt like.
I had no protection from the elements. It was like I was walking around without skin. Everything and I mean everything bothered me. I felt so raw, sensitive, and there was nothing I could do to change it. I could not be in a room with a group of people. I loathed people laughing or talking like they had the future that I didn’t have. Even the sound of some people’s voice would bother me to the point I would just leave. It’s called depression and me and people did not mix. I knew that I had friends who cared, a daughter and a God who loved me. But I could not feel any of those things. I was in some kind of hell on earth.
Like I said, we were in Venice, Italy. Today we would visit the island of Murano to take in the glass blowing studios and window shop. The glass of Murano defies my ability to describe its beauty full of texture and colors that you don’t see anywhere. Many of the stores had signs up saying: Photos Forbidden.
So, I wandered off on my own because like I said, I couldn’t tolerate much of anything for long, so I needed my freedom to move about or not as I pleased. I wandered in to this one studio listening to a tour guide describe the every movement of this artisan blowing glass like he was playing a musical instrument. After he finished creating the glass vase, setting it down on his work surface, with the flare of a magician he throws a sheet of paper over the new vase which instantly bursts into flames.
Then he takes another rod out of the glass furnace and begins swirling it over his rack, returning it to the furnace for a few minutes, swirling it again, the tour guide is prefacing the artisan’s next move by saying, “Now he will make the Ferrari horse for you”. With the deftness of a neuro surgeon, the man begins to work on the glowing piece of glass, pulling on the molten ball with a huge tweezer, bending here, twisting there. In less than a minute, he creates this beautiful horse now standing on his rear legs with nostrils flaring and front legs flailing the air.
The curator asks the question, “So do you know how this man can create such a beautiful sculpture in less than one minute”? Without waiting for anyone to offer a guess, he continues, “He has spent the last twenty years in the furnace learning his craft”! I was probably the only person in that group of thirty people who recoiled at that statement. It was like, no, it was God speaking to me about where I was, and where I would remain in order to learn my craft. I was numb, but I heard!
I was in the furnace all right, and I hated it. My friends would tell me, you can come out anytime you decide. They were wrong. I wanted out, but couldn’t find the door. It sounded so clinical to say, “It was my choice”. After all, I didn’t choose to go there in the first place!
The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. – Psalms 25:14
It’s hard to put this into words, but I will try. My observation is this; people of all kinds, especially Christians talk about a relationship with God as though we know what that’s all about. While this relationship can be compared to many other earthly ones like father to son, etc., it is not that. We use these earthly types as shadowy descriptions of what we think it is, but in reality, there is little to go on. You say, but we have the scriptures to show us what that is like, and I couldn’t agree more. But there’s a problem with that reasoning alone, and the problem is not with the scriptures. The problem is how I interpret those scriptures.
If God wants to confide in you as the psalmist says He does, what does confiding look like and what will He confide with us? Before you jump to a quick shoot from the hip answer, really ask yourself, “What would the God of the universe want to take me into His confidences for? What does He want to share with me? I don’t know, but I would offer He wants to tell you His secrets that are priceless to Him; something like friend to friend.
Can my soul handle such wonderful intimacy. Is my soul worthy of that kind of purification process? Doctrinally, we receive His nature at our new birth, but the degree in which our nature is like His in experience, can be quite different from our doctrine. We usually see something long before we walk in the experience.
So when God puts you in His furnace, He is not displeased with you. No, in fact, He is very much desiring to share an intimacy with you that only the purified can endure and enjoy on the same level as His. After all, what is a relationship without mutual joy and ecstasy?
Let me know what you think . . .