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.
Those 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)