Proverbs 17:3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.
Many years ago I heard the story of an old cowboy Christian. He described God’s dealings with him as gold being purified. Apparently the impurities bubble up to the top and can be skimmed off. That is how he was experiencing God’s dealings. He became aware of a behavior or problem in his life as God caused it to ‘bubble up’. He would repent and God would ‘skim it off’. He would no sooner get rid of one than another would bubble up and it too would be ‘skimmed off’. Well, God was dealing with so many things in his life that he was concerned that he would be nothing but ‘skimmins’.
Seeing all the ‘skimmins’ in our lives is not particularly pleasant. The good news is that when we see them (or have them pointed out to us –ouch!), we can – and must – choose to deal with them. Typically a great environment for this to happen is when we are overloaded with stress or situations that push us out of our comfort zone. Issues involving work, friends, faith, family, finances, etc… can all work together to create an environment of ‘heat’.
Think about the crucible and furnace. It’s the heat that melts the ore and causes the impurities to rise to the top. Likewise in our lives – God uses our circumstances to reveal things to us about ourselves as well as giving us opportunities to glorify Him by how we respond. Frequently it’s all going on at the same time. We can be doing wonderful things but in the midst of it, ‘skimmins’ appear.
Fortunately the Lord is in the midst of it all. He is for us! He wants our lives to become all they can be and He is committed to that process. As we are all aware, this process usually takes place in public rather than private. Others experience our ‘skimmins’ and we experience theirs. He expects us to be faithful in how we respond. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Other translations use “to help in time of need” or “in difficult times’ instead of “adversity”.
Fortunately, forgiveness, repentance and understanding are the currency of the kingdom of God. Times of ‘skimmins’ are opportunities to respond righteously rather than react as the world would (such responses are ‘skimmins’ in themselves). That’s why His grace and mercy are so abundant. They enable us to show forth His love in the practical situations of day to day living.