1 Peter 4: 12-19, 1 Peter 1:7
Hebrews 12: 6-11, Hebrews 13:20-21, Isaiah 48:10
“Lord, Do whatever you have to do in order to use me.” I cried in desperation, not knowing what it would take to do just that.
During the time Jesus walked on the earth He would use familiar, practical and pictorial illustrations to help his listeners understand his teachings. To describe the faithfulness of God in relationship to our needs he pointed to the analogy of the “lilies of the field”. To get across the spiritual principle of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness he would use parables such as, “The Prodigal Son”. And he would use metaphors such as a “woman about to give birth” to convey an important event. So it would not be unusual, today, for the Holy Spirit, to also use practical and pictorial illustrations to guide us into “all understanding” which Jesus promised his disciples (John 16:13) . What is important is that all teachings line up with the Word of God. God does not contradict himself. So the measuring rod or standard in discerning what is of God and what is not are the Holy Scriptures. The Lord may use new things (Isaiah 43:19) to get across His spiritual point, but the spiritual point will not contradict scripture in context. I say all this to explain how the Lord answered my prayer and illustrated very vividly what was occurring in my life – A time when I was about to enter a “fiery trial”.
During the 70’s I was attending a church that was putting a lot of emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The more I listened to sermons that conveyed what believers could achieve through the power of the Holy Spirit, the more I was convinced that I should also have “signs following” my spiritual attempts. I expected to see healings and deliverance whenever I prayed for someone who was in need. And so, when these things were not happening, I began to get confused and depressed. So, one day in the midst of this confusion and depression, I asked the Lord to reveal what was happening.
It was on a day that I was visiting my parents that he gave me the following illustration in answer to my prayer.
While approaching the garage of my parents’ home I witnessed my father sitting in front of a small pot with a flaming torch beneath it. He immediately invited me to see what he was doing. As I drew near he began to tell me how he was making new sinkers or weights for his fishing tackle. He showed me how he could take the old rusted metal sinkers and produce new ones. As I watched, I could see a shiny melted metal boiling away. It didn’t take long to see an amazing thing occur. Above the shiny liquid I witnessed rust floating to the top. This is when my father told me that all he had to do was scoop off the rust and the melted metal would be purified. Well, after he took a spoon and removed the rust, he picked up a plate containing several molds shaped like sinkers. I then watched him pour the purified metal into the molds. “After the sinkers cool”, he explained, “I will have new sinkers that I can use again”. As he was explaining and illustrating this transformation of old sinkers into new ones, a spiritual confirmation was occurring in my heart. I realized that the Lord was explaining to me what he was about to accomplish in my life. He was about to remove the dross, sin, and anything else that was not of him to transform me into a vessel he could use for His service. He was answering a previous prayer, “Do whatever you have to do in order to use me.” God was faithful to do what I asked. But I came to realize it was not my cry but the cry of the Holy Spirit making intercession for me. And soon afterward, I embarked on the “strangest circumstance” that was to test all that I stood for and believed. And when I emerged from the trial, with faith in nothing more than Christ’s finished work on the cross, the dross that was in the way was removed and I began learning His Way.