Saturday, April 30, 2011

Time to Begin

“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable 
nor does the genius or the madman.  
 It’s only you and I with our big brains and our tiny hearts, 
who doubt and overthink and hesitate.”   
—Steven Pressfield, Do The Work

My baby sister was born when I was eight years old.  It was at that age I became aware of the fact that there were babies inside their mother’s tummy that came out as complete human beings with fingers and toes, even down to miniscule fingernails and toenails. 

But just as mystifying to me were those who were older than me like teenagers and old people like my parents, really old people like my grandparents and really, really old  people like my great grandparents.   

Photo by Kristin N. Bailey © 2011
How did this happen, I wondered?  How did babies get in their mother’s tummy and how did people grow to be as old as Papaw White?  The answer was obvious to me. It came in a flash of insight so clear and true and pure.  People grow up to a certain age and then grew back down even to the point of being in their mother’s tummy and were reborn. 

“Grandma, when I grow down I still want to sing songs like Baby Ne-Ne,” I said. 

“Um, hmm,” she said.  She was peeling potatoes, a job that always seemed to require concentration of the utmost importance. 

“Maybe when I grow up, I’ll learn to peel potatoes.”

“Peeling potatoes is easy, its singing like a sweet baby that’s hard.  I can’t help you with singing. Lord knows I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I can help you with peeling potatoes.  Here, give me your hand and I’ll show you how to hold the paring knife.”  And so the lesson began and the concept of growing down went unchallenged, therefore it became a part of my world. 

I would often think about things I wanted to do when I grew up, but just often I’d plan the things I wanted to do when I grew down. I was in my teen years before someone challenged this way of thinking.  They were so vehemently opposed to it that I began to think maybe I was wrong after all. Maybe I had just made up this process of growing up and down and then doing it over again. When my children were born, when my great grandparents, grandparents and parents died, I was sure I was totally wrong about this paradigm.

And so I became earth-bound in my thinking.  That is until I visited Trikala.  Now I know that eight-year old brains can indeed be in tune with the universe. Perhaps 57-year olds brains can be, as well, for that was the age my grandmother was when my ideas went unchallenged.  That, as well, is my age today, the day I discovered the truth.

The truth, though, I should warn you isn’t always pretty.  The process of its discovery can be sinister, malevolent and downright scary like a violent thunderstorm breaking large trees like toothpicks, pounding hail on the rooftops and threatening tornado-laden winds that take lives.  But when it has accomplished its task, there comes a rainbow coloring the earth in vibrant shades of reds, purples and pinks making everything more brilliant beneath in its wake. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Master Refiner

The story of Refining Silver is one I’d hear before.  A friend, Stephanie Smith, posted it on Facebook recently. I researched it to find that the author is unknown. I will repost it so you can understand my comments.  As a refiner myself, it was very impactful to me. Stay with me and I’ll explain a little more at the end.

Malachi 3:3 says: 'He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.'

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God .. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: ' He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.' She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?' He smiled at her and answered, ' Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it.'

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

My Application:
Recently I went to through a team building seminar. One of the processes we went through is a Team Dimension Profile.  Based on a test you take, it gives you your role or function in a team setting. 

Possibilities were Creator, the one who generates the ideas; Advancer, the one who communicates the ideas; Executor, the one who implements the ideas; Refiner, one who challenges the ideas and Flexer, the one who steps in wherever needed.

The chart showed you can have combinations of several of these or one or be more of one and less of the other.  My chart showed I am 100%, without a doubt, Refiner and not much else except a slight bit on the executor side. 

My profile from Team Dimensions* said that a Refiner is “one who analyzes a solution for flaws or revises a project systematically.”  A Refiner, they said, is one who makes “sure that ideas are sound before moving them to the next level.”

After reading the post I was hit with a couple of things. First, God’s nature is such that He not only will not, but cannot move us on the next level until all the flaws are out of us at the level we are on.  This totally helps me understand how there are people “stuck” in life.  It helps me understand how I sometimes feel like I’m going round and round the mountain in certain areas.  It’s because the flaws aren’t gone yet and until they are, God cannot help me advance.  He’s the Master Refiner and He is definitely still refining me.

When I work with people I’m life coaching, many times I think I can’t keep going with the person because they are not getting it.  However, if I am a Refiner, my job is to sit next to the fire until the flaws are gone.  I have to stick in there. I have to, or rather, I get to stay the course.

Which leads me to the second thing.  The only way I can help anyone is if the Master Refiner is sitting with me until He finds the flaws in me that might help the individual I’m coaching. Every person I help has to be a reflection back to me of some imperfection in my life.

The breakthroughs do not come until I am able to share with the individual a personal application out of my life that might help them.  It is not until I see myself where they are. Almost in reverse of why God has to wait until He sees His reflection in us, is the reason I must wait until I see my reflection in people I share with.

This is true even just with a friend or a checkout clerk, a divorced mom, a unemployed dad, an addict, an alcoholic, a child abuser, a homeless person.  I don’t know about you, but many times I find myself thinking I’m better than some of those I mentioned.  But in a heartbeat any category could be me.  I am but one step away from most any of these difficulties if my circumstances were to change.

We must see ourselves in others before we can start to relate to where another person is and have any possibility of leading them to God’s answers.  Actually, isn’t it our purpose here on earth to relate to others and lead them straight to God the Master Refiner? 

As for my being a Refiner, I am challenged and humbled by the task.  But more determined than ever to fulfill my purpose here on earth of leading others to the Master Refiner.

*Team Dimensions Profile 2.0 from Inscape Publishing (