How would I describe my time at the Bible College of Wales (BCW)? For many, their school term at the BCW may have been a ‘spiritual retreat.’ It may also have been a time of seeking and finding the Lord, of searching for direction and purpose, or of asking God to confirm His call on our lives. While these were the experiences of others, God chose to reveal His nature as a Refiner’s Fire to me when I studied at the BCW in Spring 2019.
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness."
Fire has many functions. It burns fast and spreads easily, it provides warmth, it gives light, and is also a purifier of precious metals.
Today, the process of purifying gold, silver, or any other precious metals employs the use of electricity or chemicals. But in the past, fire was the main agent used for purification. The silversmith would put a piece of untreated silver directly into the centre of the fire, where it is the hottest and most effective, to remove any impurities. As the silver stays in the burning furnace, the silversmith sits by the fire to watch, because a moment too long in the fire will damage the silver.
But the process does not end here. The fire brings to the surface a layer of dross (impurities) on the silver and the silversmith has to scrape this away before placing the silver back into the fire for further purification. He repeats this process over and over until the purification process is complete – when he is able to see his reflection in the silver.
The journey to Christ-likeness is a life-long process.
From the moment I stepped onto the grounds of the BCW, I felt like I was in the centre of a fire. Living on-site, rubbing shoulders with classmates from various cultures, backgrounds, age groups etc., has been a humbling experience for me. We also learnt to submit to a very elaborate schedule which included lecturers teaching on timely and relevant subjects and which facilitated moments where the Holy Spirit would convict me of areas in my life which needed adjusting. It did not take long for the impurities in my life to surface and I found myself questioning my own reactions. “Why would I say this?”, “How could I have such thoughts?” and, “Why was I impatient and intolerant?” – these were questions I sought to answer. Each time this ugly and selfish side of me reared its head, it was an opportune moment for the Lord in His mercy to reveal the condition of my heart, scrape off the impurities (dross), and to put me back into the fire for further purification.
I have met with the Lord and encountered Him; the previous layer of dross has been removed, so the Purifier and Refiner is able to do a deeper work in me.
Through it all, whether I was in the fire or being confronted with my flaws and weaknesses, the Master Silversmith had His eyes set on me. He has never left me alone in the fire; nor has He ever left the fireside. This brings me great comfort to know that He sits as the Refiner and Purifier until He sees Himself reflected in me.
Although I graduated from the BCW in May 2019, it did not spell the end of my time in the furnace. In fact, my classmates and I quipped about how the real test awaits us once we step out and beyond the college grounds! True enough, what awaited me as I returned to the mundane grind of life was the challenge to remember the promises He had spoken over me, to constantly lay hold and retain the lessons I’ve picked up, and the discipline to recognise and encounter His presence daily. Many times, it seems easy to slip back into the old thought pattern and lifestyle before BCW, but like silver that has passed through the fire, I can no longer remain the same as before. I have met with the Lord and encountered Him; the previous layer of dross has been removed, so the Purifier and Refiner is able to do a deeper work in me.
The journey to Christ-likeness is a life-long process. And so, before we get to see Him face-to-face, let us give thanks for our time in the fire. We are more precious than gold and silver; and only through purification can we offer ourselves as an offering in righteousness unto Him.
Written by Joycelyn Yeo