Unlike our best efforts to pass a written examination by getting correct answers to difficult questions, almost anyone can get a perfect score when it comes to calculating the high cost of owning an automobile.
Given a test on the highest operating expense for a car, the easiest way to answer would be to identify the primary cost needed to provide regular transportation. I’m pretty sure everyone would get that question correct. Gasoline!
One of the noxious challenges associated with buying gasoline is fluctuation in price. There are more ups and downs in that expense than there are moves in a checkerboard game. The reasons may not make it more acceptable when you go to the gas pump, but it might add some dimension to understanding one of the forces behind gasoline production.
As most of you know, the journey for gasoline does not begin to have value to us as fuel or other petroleum products until it goes through a process. This process is called refining. Crude oil is heated in a furnace, sent to another place where it is separated through boiling, then converted by heating, pressure, or a catalyst into finished products like gasoline, etc.¹
As part of our growth--spiritually, and mindfully--God’s process for human maturity, and character involves refining. Another definition biblically equal to refining is suffering. Now no one wants to read, hear or talk about suffering. It’s painful, it stings, it creates sorrow, it seems futile, it certainly is not fun, and how is this a tribute to the great I Am? After all, what’s the point?
We should all be confident in who we are. However, within our souls we often carry around these character traits: arrogance, know-it-all, always right and never wrong, won’t admit mistakes, murmuring and complaining, self-pity, vanity, lack of empathy for others, being easily offended, etc. Sometimes, we allow these traits to define us.
Life is full of negative circumstances, but like crude oil, refining or suffering helps eliminate our crude characteristics. God’s incomparable love for humanity allows negative circumstances, even the ones that are unexplainable, to produce a product that is valuable and unique.
Remember crude oil has very little value until it is refined. It goes through several intense steps before it is ready for others’ use. Refining humankind also takes time. God sees humanity surpassing the value of money, gold, or silver even as we are being refined. God is striving for perfection and maturity. He doesn’t rush His timetable. One day with the Lord is like a thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Because of His matchless, eternal love, God’s refining will never cease. It will continue until completion with the return of His Son.
Let the circumstances come and give thanks in all things as He continues to refine. (I Thessalonians 5:18) Be prepared to be amazed at the value it releases within us.