The following post is an article I wrote for the March 2014 edition of My Journey of Faith Magazine…I recently reread these words and was overwhelmed at the way they preached to my own heart right here, right now. Oh God is so good. I pray He encourages you in His glassblowing techniques!
Lately I have been thinking about the technique of glassblowing …it starts as a blob and is thrust into and out of a furnace or flame…being refined and purified, beautified by the glassblower. The glassblower knows what he is doing; the glass just takes the heat. It melts and molds and forms this beautiful shape that is known from the beginning only by the glassblower. Into the fire, out of the fire, into the fire…turned in the fire, molded in the fire…the glass would remain a blob if it weren’t put into the fire, continually rotated and carefully blown into by the skilled glassblower…
1 Peter 4:12 warns us to “not be surprised at the fiery trials we are going through as if something strange were happening, but to be very glad – these trials make us partners with Christ in His suffering.” A trial by definition is a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation. God, the Great Glassblower, allows various trials in our lives for HIS glory and for our refinement and spiritual growth. All of our trials, both big and small, are opportunities for Christ to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine” 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)
In researching more about glassblowing, I learned that the transformation of raw materials into glass takes place around 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit…that is HOT! We, like a blob of glass, are transformed in our trials no matter how hot they get…IF we keep our eyes on Jesus. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, we will stand, no matter the fire, no matter our circumstances, and be refined, purified and strengthened. Only when we take our gaze off of Him and onto the chaos surrounding us do we feel the true heat of the furnace and the weight of our burdens. I’ve walked through fiery trials where I’ve kept my eyes and entire focus on Jesus Christ and it was amazing; I’ve never experienced God more. I’ve also walked through fiery trials where my focus was on ME and my circumstances and it was some of the darkest times in my life. BUT it taught me to let go, trust Him and let Him do the refining and molding.
Are we moldable? Are we letting Him use us in the midst of our trials? Do we know deep down that He LOVES us and has a plan far better than we are capable of understanding? Do we truly know it’s not about US??? This is the world HE created. We are HIS…WE are his glass blobs to be molded and purified into something so beautiful. Are we truly letting Him have us?
Glassblowing involves three furnaces: the first is simply referred to as the furnace. The second is called the glory hole and is used to reheat a piece in between steps of working with it. The final furnace is called the lehr or annealer, and is used to slowly cool the glass (it can take hours or days). This final furnace keeps the glass from cracking or shattering due to thermal stress.
This is beautiful! The glory hole (what a name for this process!) is used to reheat a piece in between steps of working with it…isn’t that just what the Lord does with us? He is working with us, breathing into us and reheating us as needed for HIS glory and our good. That, my friends, is a glory hole. Just as there is no way for glass to become what the glassblower desires it to be without the glory hole, there is no way to learn of faith except through trials (A.B Simpson).
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed but not driven to despair. We are hunted down but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed. Through suffering our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:8
And then the final furnace… to keep the glass from cracking or shattering due to thermal stress…oh that I would keep from cracking! I’m convinced this is God’s grace only found in Jesus Christ; His spirit, inside of believers, keeping us from shattering and picking us up if we do. It’s not always the huge fiery trials that break us, sometimes it’s the day in and day out stresses. Whether we bring them about on our own, or are being allowed to experience them, Jesus Christ is there to save us.
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (MSG)
I’m truly amazed at the glassblowing technique and how similar it is to life. One of my favorite things I’ve learned about glassblowing is the following: “Skilled glassblowers are capable of shaping almost any vessel forms by rotating the pipe, swinging it and controlling the temperature of the piece while they blow.”