In Search of Gold…

I don’t know how it happens. Whether it was a trained eye or pure luck… I had neither. With 7 active middle-schoolers in tow, I went to the stream with “gold” retrieval pans in hand because the instructor said we may be able to find gold. Now, this was a 5th & 6th-grade trip and I was only there because I was chaperoning the boys from my son’s class. I hated being outside, but I relented because I wanted to see them enjoy themselves. We get to the stream and all I saw were mud covered pebbles, murky water, and a kid about to slip in the stream and have to walk all the way back to the cabin because he was playing when he should’ve been paying attention! After calming everyone down, we listened intently as we were given instructions on how to “mine” for gold. I thought it was a sham because these kids had no idea how to look for gold, let alone know what it was when they found it.

Fifteen minutes later, after swatting flies and sifting through rocks, I hear someone say “I found something.” That something turned out to be a genuine piece of gold. It looked to me like a fleck of dirt, but the expert looked at it, swished it around in some water, then placed it in a bottle with some special solution. Seconds later he declared that it was indeed pure gold. Granted it was worth only 2 dollars, but still, it was the first time any of the kids our group had ever mined for gold, let alone actually finding anything! If it were left up to me, I would’ve thrown it back because it was a waste of time and when we did find something, it looked worthless to me.

I was reminded of Solomon’s take on gold in Proverbs. I began reading chapter 17, but I couldn’t get past the third verse. It says “the refining process for silver in the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.” The refining pot and the furnace are used to remove elements on the precious metals. The metal, once lying on the ground or buried in an obscure place is identified in its raw state. As it was in our mining adventure, it is unsure if the one that discovers the “gold” can see its value BEFORE the dross is removed. The challenge is often convincing others of the value because there are external impurities that have attached themselves make it difficult to distinguish its authenticity. In fact, it is nearly impossible to remove without introducing another element — fire.

The refining process becomes necessary to identify if the item discovered is truly valuable. The flakes or rocks can appear like they are either worthless or expensive based on the other things hanging on them. If the sediment and dross are not removed there’s no telling what the true value is. The same is true with our hearts. The Lord is identified as the “instrument “that determines the value of our hearts. He tests our true motives because we really do not know what’s going on the heart (see Jeremiah 17:9,10). James 1:1–4 takes this refining process even further when…. the author says we should count it all joy when we have various challenges and trials because it produces something greater in us that was not there (or if it was there it was not visible) before. The refiner’s goal is to get the precious metal to its best state for a greater use.

That caused me to ponder… Could it be that God wants me to be better than I am right now? Is it possible that the things (and many of them may be difficult) I am experiencing are there not just to help me but to propel me to greater heights? Jeremiah 20:11 says “I know the thoughts I think toward you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And go and pray to me and I will listen to. And you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” So if He wants the best for me, and at the same time puts me in a furnace to refine me, could it be that my rough moments are actually refining me, preparing me, pruning me for my good and His glory?

I want to leave you with the words to an old song from one of my favorite artists — Daryl Coley, “He’s preparing me.”.

He’s preparing me for something
I cannot handle right now
He’s making me ready
Just because He cares
He’s providing me with what I’ll need
To carry out the next matter in my life

Preparing me
He cares for me
Preparing me
For everything
That comes in my life