Fabric and Funerals, Flowers and Family, Finality and Photo Shoots, Finishes and Fresh Starts…
Some weeks are packed with extremes.
Good friends called to the ministry… good friends called to heaven. Funeral plans in the middle of wedding plans…
Marnell’s company picnic was today, perhaps the most beautiful day of the fall, with warm sunlight falling over the corn hole tournament and a light breeze to cool the contestants. Marnell showed me the plant where they grind tires into shreds, and then into even smaller shreds. He showed me the machines that catch the tire wire with a magnet, and whisk it away, and the rubber rolls out to other machines, other processes, until it becomes a fine rubber powder. He showed me the quality control room with different sized rubber granules sealed in glass jars, labeled with writing I couldn’t understand.
“I would like to work in this room,” I said.
Then, after we ate grilled chicken and calico beans, he showed me where the powdered rubber goes. He showed me how it is mixed with plastic and transformed into ropes like spaghetti. He showed me how the ropes are chopped into pellets. We dipped our hands into the black pieces and watched them fall through our fingers. He showed me how the rubber is heated and injected back into molds, becoming new things, brand-new rubber products shrink-wrapped on pallets for a new purpose.
And I wonder… perhaps our lives are like that! Maybe, God dismantles us at times into smaller and smaller bits, pulling away the parts that He cannot find useful. Surely if the tires could speak, they would cry out in distress as their identities disappear, and their usefulness seems to evaporate!
But then, as the rubber moves from machine to machine, it is molded and shaped for a different purpose, something the original tire could never have visualized.
And we think of Abraham, standing there on that mountain after nearly sacrificing his son, after watching the fabric of his dreams of usefulness and happiness fall into smaller and smaller shreds, suddenly restored by God to something new. Suddenly, Abraham and his son became a symbol of the greatest Sacrifice, but only because he gave all the shreds to God, and let God pull out all the waste, and heat him to the highest heat, and mold him and his life into something new.
There’s even a whole section of my Bible chain reference called “Divine methods used for testing believers” with such headings as by demanding great sacrifices, by leading men in a difficult way, by giving opportunities for choice, by proposing hard tasks, by permitting men to suffer…
And under these headings we encounter such people as Abraham, Moses, Philip, Paul and Silas.
All of them, once worn shadows of their own egos, shredded and powdered and transformed into something new and useful, something they themselves loved being!
Perhaps these things we cannot process well–funerals and failures and overwhelming things that shake our world–are the things that are processing us into exactly what God pictured when we said, “God, help me to know You! Make me into what you want me to be!” And we emerge, our identity re-established in newness, not lost.
I don’t know where I am in the octopus of shredders and conveyors and molds that God uses to make us what he wants us to be. Maybe it’s best we can’t see how many grinders and shredders we still have to go through. But like the masterminds behind the tire-grinding company, God knows.
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. Genesis 22:14