by Michael Orange, TC Dean of Students
A crucible is a container used in the refinement of precious metals. The refining process is employed to remove impurities, leaving behind only what is desired, which is the precious material that has great value. The Bible speaks of this process to describe God’s sanctifying work in his people. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.”
Refining is done by heating raw material in the crucible to very high temperatures. The refiner must be patient and diligent in this process. The desired result can be impeded by trying to do it too quickly, or by overheating the raw material. Too little heat will leave behind undesirable impurities.
Parenting is much like this refining process. Our children are fearfully and wonderfully made, (Ps. 139:14). Yet we are all born with the impurity of sin. They are also created with all of the potential to live out God’s purpose and promise that he intends for them. As parents, God uses you in his refining work in their lives. This is a great privilege, but it also strikes fear in us, as we realize the importance of this responsibility.
In the book of Daniel we are told of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused to obey a decree of king Nebuchadnezzar to bow down and worship a statue of him that had been set up in the Babylonian province where they served. The penalty for their refusal was to be thrown into a fiery furnace. They were bound firmly, dressed in full attire. The king ordered that the furnace be heated to seven times normal, so hot that the soldiers that escorted them to the furnace died from the intense heat. The three men fell into the furnace. But as the king looked into it he saw four men walking around, one appearing as the “son of the gods”, (an Old Testament Christophany).
When they walked out of the furnace nothing on them was burnt. Not a hair on their head was singed. They did not even have the smell of smoke about them. In fact, the only things destroyed in the furnace were the ropes that kept them in bondage.
What a wonderful picture of the purpose of the refining process with which the Lord has entrusted us as parents. Discipline is key in this role. Don’t shy away from it. Seek godly wisdom, be patient, and keep in mind the desired outcome of discipline, which is to release them from the bondage of disobedience and self-centeredness. As this happens, they are empowered to grow in godliness and live “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:12). Of course, the Holy Spirit produces this work in all of us, but, as parents, we play a vital role as refining instruments in our children’s lives.
Finally, be reminded that, like the fourth person in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you need to be willing to walk along with your children in this process. That means that you will have to bear some of the discomfort of consequences in your own life, as you apply the heat of discipline. However, it is vital that your children know that you are “with” them. The assurance of your love, devotion, patience, and presence will help them receive discipline with less bitterness and resistance. May the Lord strengthen you for this crucial work. Be strong in Him!