Wax Hearts

My husband and I have several hives of bees. For the past couple of years, we’ve been loosely mentored in bee keeping (as our interest and time allow) by my dad. This year, we decided it was time to commit and take on the care of our hives, calling for help when necessary. This season, we managed to harvest nearly 100 lbs. of honey, and try our hand at rendering the wax from the comb capping’s.

Rendering wax is a multi-step process. The wax is melted, filtered and cooled – twice – being poured into a final mold after the second filtering. From there, the wax is melted a third time and made into candles, lip balm, etc.

As the final stage of filtered wax was poured into the molds, I watched these freshly melted wax hearts begin to harden and cool – taking shape of the form around them. The wax had first been scraped with a hot knife from the comb. Then left to drip of all the sweetness within. Gathered up, the wax was set in the hot sun to melt. Filtered from the slum gum (yucky stuff), the first glimpses of purity were seen. But again came the sun, hot and unyielding. Once again poured out, filtered and drained. This wax rendering was work; requiring patience, and careful handling as to not get burned.

Throughout the old and new Testament, scripture mentions hearts that are melted and hearts that are refined by fire.

The Psalmist, David, wrote about feeling forsaken by God and scorned by mankind. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast.” (Psalm 22:14, ESV)

The testing and trials of life can be like that hot honey-knife, slicing away and exposing past hurts and pains, insecurities, strong holds, addictions, idols. Or maybe it’s walking through a desert-like season with the sun beating down and melting us into a hopeless puddle, like the melted wax heart within David’s chest in Psalm 22.

Melted and filtered.

Testing and trials.

Each step can be used to refine our heart, it’s work, just like the removal of the slum gum from the wax. What would it be like to accept those trials and desert seasons of life, when our heart feel melted, with gratitude for the refining like gold? “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right (steadfast) spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (ESV) Would that change your perspective in times of trouble? Could you be brave and ask what is being refined?

I don’t believe that testing and trials are just for the fun of it. We live in a fallen world with hurts and heartaches…but Jesus. Take a look at these verses in 1 Peter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 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. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

When the hot sun comes bearing down, and you feel like you’ve been thrown into a furnace, I want to challenge you to pick up your shield of faith (Eph. 6:16) and with a surrendered heart, trust the Refiner (God) through the fire. Ask Him to use the fire, refine your faith in Him. Through the flames, I want to challenge you to give God the glory with a heart of thanksgiving, accepting his abundant mercy and grace, allowing the ‘yuck’ to be worked through His filter. You and your faith are precious to the Lord.

IMG_5439Those refined wax hearts are ready to use. Ready to be transformed into something which can burn brightly or sooth chapped lips. Our refined hearts can burn brightly for the Lord and be used to offer a soothing balm to others who are hurting and chapped by this world.

Be encouraged, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

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Tide Changer

For the last year and a half, I’ve been studying the book of Joshua and writing a Bible study while teaching the material in Connection Class on Sunday mornings. While reviewing Joshua 11 for class and the day’s lesson about the ebb and flow of the Israelites’ claiming their Promised Land it hit me. God is our Tide Changer.

fullsizeoutput_ef3.jpegThere’s no Hebrew name for God in this fashion (that I’m aware of), but I truly believe it. God, Creator of the universe – moon, stars, oceans, the whole shebang – also created the tides. The ebb and flow, their shifting all over this blue-green globe.

Life tends to have an ebb and flow to it too, shifting seasons of fall and winter rest followed by the full force of spring and summer. And within that, each day and week have an ebb and flow, a rhythmic pattern of coming and going. A Sabbath rest followed by busy work days, and back again.

My life right now is in the full-force “flow” mode. It’s abundantly full to the point I’m not sure I can keep up. But He amazes me with just enough rest to catch my breath before the next wave hits. (Like this moment right now!) At times, it feels the waves won’t let up, but I know it won’t last forever.

Perhaps you’re in an “ebb” season, where drought and depression have engulfed you. No matter where you are, whether in the “ebb” or “flow” of life – trust that God is the Tide Changer. He can bring life rushing back with a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit, or shift the tide so that we can slow down and breathe.

What season are you in right now? No matter where you find yourself, God can and will always turn the tide for your good. Trust Him.

Jesus & the Road to Emmaus

I’ve been reading through the book of Luke since late April or early May. It’s been a little sporadic, but I finally finished today. To be completely honest, the last three chapters I had really been putting off – the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus.

This morning, I asked God to help me finish the last two chapters of Luke. It would be more scripture than normally covered, but I wanted to finish. As I prayed, it occurred to me that this part is the greatest part of God’s love letter to us. It’s the greatest part of His love story. If my husband sacrificed his own life for that of someone else, it would be the talk of the town. A sacrificial love like no other. Why would I not want to read the greatest love story ever told?

With a fresh desire I made it through, and to the final chapter. I love the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Cleopas and Simon are walking to Emmaus and come across a stranger who joins them. They tell this stranger about what has just taken place in Jerusalem – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Good News travels fast). Then the stranger begins to interpret to them all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27) They are wowed by the stranger’s understanding and urge him to stay with them, come for supper.

But as they sit to eat, the stranger breaks the bread and blesses it. Immediately, the two men’s eyes are opened and they realize that this “stranger” is the resurrected Jesus himself. (Talk about a good story!) As their eyes are opened to who they had spent so much time with that day, Jesus vanishes. I’m sure their opened eyes got a little wider.

“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” (Luke 24:30-31, ESV)

That verse reminded me of when I first saw Jesus. It was in the telling of the story of his crucifixion and resurrection. It was his body – blessed, broken and given to each one of us – just like the bread with Cleopas and Simon. It was an August night in 1994 at Windy Gap, a Young Life camp. The story of Jesus was graphically told that night, just like I read in Luke 23 this morning. It was the realization of how much the Lord our God loves us, has forgiven us, desires relationship with us, and prepared a way for eternal life for us, with Him.

Whatever road you are on right now, I want to encourage you to take 20-30 minutes, and read the gospel of Luke 23-24. I promise you, time spent in God’s Word is not wasted time. Allow Him to meet you, right where you are. Its about relationship, not perfection. I’m asking that God would open our eyes, just like Cleopas and Simon, to see Jesus. I’m asking for a fresh reminder of what first brought us to believe God and Jesus’ sacrifice. And I’m asking that God’s love would wash over us, afresh. Amen.