The Winemaker and Refiner of Our Soul
Grace Whispers: The crushing of the soul through disappointments, rejections, pain, and sorrow will eventually bring about the soul’s best wine for the Lord’s purpose.
My new book, “My Return Home to Innocence,” (found on Amazon), Chapter 10 entitled, “My Search Continues.” The chapter begins by stating, When the mask begins to fall off, we must find a way to keep up the facade or do we?
This chapter talks about how I desperately tried to hold my life together as it was falling apart; the death of my great-grandmother, losing a boyfriend, had an abortion, and suffering rejection from family and friends. It was a chapter on devastating losses because Jesus was drawing me to Himself. He longed to take care of me and be my LIFE, but I was determined to live life my way and only with His help when I called on Him. Sounds familiar? We use Jesus on our terms and for our benefit. We prefer He stays out-of-the-way as we live a life pleasing to us and when we need Him, we pray and ask Him to intervene. Yep, that was me. But, Jesus has a way of getting our attention to draw us to Himself. He allows our lives to fall apart and our own strength to diminish as He uses every crushing circumstance to serve His most beautiful purpose. I call Him the “Winemaker and Refiner” of the soul.
Traditionally, wine is the central symbol of transformation. Transformation means to change form or appearance. Transformation begins through the crushing of the grapes which is purified, fermented, then becomes wine to be enjoyed.
Wine is a mirror held up in nature to show growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives. Likewise, the Word of God is our mirror for the soul. The process of winemaking is that of transformation, a result of breaking wholes into parts and integrating parts into wholes, grapes into wine. The grape or our soul (will, thoughts, and emotions) is transformed by the crushing circumstances the Lord allows so He can free it from the flesh’s powers. When the soul is weakened by circumstances and turns away from the flesh, as its crutch and strength, it learns to yield to the Lord without murmuring or complaining in its trials or challenges. Then, it patiently waits as the Lord transforms the soul from being hard and resistant to weakly and pliable, walking as ONE in the Spirit. The soul humbles itself under the mighty pressures of the Lord and finds rest. This is an ongoing process until the wine of the soul meets the Lord’s exquisite taste and the soul finds its trust and confidence in the Lord ALONE.
Not only does the Lord uses our circumstances to transform the soul, but He also uses them to purify the soul of its dependence upon the flesh, (man’s means of getting his needs met without Christ). Let’s take a look at the Lord, The Refiner.
Hebrews 12:28-29 (Amplified Bible)
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, and offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is [indeed] a consuming fire.
When viewing this scripture through the lens of His grace and love, our Loving Lord is conforming and transforming our souls into His same image. Again, the challenges in life, the struggles, our disobedience to His words, and voice are all used to refine and purify the soul so it will no longer depend on getting its needs met through the flesh but by depending on the Lord; the TRUE source of Life.
June Hunt, a counselor and author with Hope for the Heart Ministries in Plano Texas, has blessed me over the years with her beautiful picture of how our Father and Lord uses suffering and challenges in our lives to refine and conform our souls into the image of our Lord Jesus, who lives fully and completely in our spirits. I hope you enjoy her insight. *** My comments are in (parenthesis)
The Bible is filled with word pictures explaining how God operates as a Heavenly and Loving Refiner in our lives, mirroring the process earthly refiners used to purify ore.
The Brokenness. The refiner in biblical times broke up the hardened ore (our soul set in its ways and following the flesh to get its needs met) so that possible precious metals of gold and silver could be exposed to heat. In truth, we are all (the soul, in its dependence on the flesh… never our spirit) rough rocks in need of brokenness and God’s refining fire. “Is not my word like fire,’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:9)
The Crucible. The refiner puts the broken, crushed ore into a crucible—a fireproof melting portable to withstand extreme heat. Then the crucible is placed into the furnace. Our Refiner allows us to be put into a crucible (trials, circumstances, difficulties) and then into the heated furnace to purify our hearts. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3).
(James Chapter 1 reminds us how precious our faith is… more precious than gold and how it is tested and purified in the fires of life. He also reminds us to count it all joy, even though it is not a joyous experience, and not to allow the flesh to murmur and complain during our testing. Instead, we give Him thanks in ALL THINGS because this is the Will of God for us at this very moment.)
The Dross. The refiner watches as the ore melts in the crucible and sees a layer of impurities—called dross—form on the surface. Then he removes the dross. For us individually, “dross” represents anything or anyone that keeps the soul from yielding fully to the Lord in the process. (The flesh is the enemy, holding the soul captive). “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel” (Proverbs 25:4).
The Purification. The refiner skims the dross off the surface, looks into the crucible, and sees a dim image of himself (being revealed in the soul). Then he carefully turns up the heat and places the crucible back into the blistering furnace… again and again. . . up to seven times. Why the higher heat? He knows that only certain impurities are released at certain temperatures. “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (Psalms 12:6).
The Reflection. To gauge his progress, the refiner looks for his own reflection on the surface of the melted silver or gold in the crucible. The more dross removed, the less distorted His image. Only when the refiner sees a clear reflection of Himself in the crucible is the process complete.
(The soul reflects the very same image as its Spirit, as it walks in harmony and unity as ONE. The soul no longer warring or battling with the Lord, but now lives with ONE WILL… Not my will Lord, but Your will be done, no matter what I think or feel about the circumstances You may allow. ALL THINGS ARE WORKING FOR MY GOOD AND YOUR PURPOSES!)
(The Bible tells us Christ is our Life and lives within us: the flesh hides the soul from seeing its TRUE IDENTITY IN CHRIST. Therefore, we are being transformed and conformed into the image of Christ by the yielding more and more of our souls to Christ and less to the enemy, the flesh. As we trust God to use our pain and circumstances to purify our soul, the character of Christ in our souls will come forth as gold.)
“He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold,” (Job 23:10)
And that, my friend, describes our Refiner’s loving intentions for allowing us to be in the “furnace of affliction.”
June concludes, “In my own life, the facts are clear: Time and again, God, through His matchless mercy and grace, has transformed my tests . . . into a testimony. And, friend, if God can do that for me, He can do it for you!”
THIS HAS BEEN MY PATH AS WELL THAT HAS BROUGHT MY SOUL HOME TO REST AND ABIDE IN MY LORD’S PRECIOUS LOVE!