Joining in again today with the Five Minute Friday writing fellowship, I’ve “free-written” not just once, but twice. Read on and you’ll see why…


False start:


So the free-write prompt word for this week on Five Minute Friday is “refine.”

I read it and sigh.

I don’t want to write about refine.

I don’t want to think about refine.

I don’t like the idea of refining, because it makes me think of metal and fire and searing intensity—just as the fiery illustration on a linked post to the host page emphasizes.

I’m not metal, and fire hurts. And it seems like I’ve had enough “refining” that if I’m not pretty well done by now, I’m never going to be, so what’s the good of all that pain?

This is way too cynical to put online.

But I do get tired, oh so tired.

Please Lord, help me get through all this refining process, and end up refined!


Stop!  No, time’s not up, but I’m starting over. Scratch all that writing! (above).


I stop and ponder….

I look up the word’s definition, and I see an interesting repetition! Do you see it?

re fine vt 1 : to free… from impurities or unwanted material 2 : to free from moral imperfection : ELEVATE 3 : to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing … 5 : to free from what is vulgar or uncouth…

What’s repeated is the phrase “to free…”!

This has quite a different feel from being plunged into fire!

I have also looked up “refine” in my online concordance, in many different Bible translations, and what surprises me there is that I haven’t yet found any contexts where “refine,” “refined,” or “refining” by fire are actually talking about the growth and improvement of the earnest believer in Christ! (except possibly one, obliquely).

They talk about gold or silver or God’s stubborn, rebellious people who have to be corrected against their will, because they won’t bend to His, won’t make any effort to free themselves of their immoral practices, and follow His instructions and ways.

I may be missing something here in this quick survey, but what’s impressing me so far is how big a part the believer evidently has in the refining process—and by that I mean the improving, growing process, not necessarily always by fire.

Yes, God does prune us, correct us, and give us a share in Christ’s suffering, which is intended to have an improving effect on people like me and lead us into deeper fellowship with Him. But even that won’t make it happen if I don’t participate, cooperate, yield to the process. I can still balk and rebel.

God is clearly the doer of much of the spiritual “polishing.” But I make it more or less possible by how much I make myself available to Him, yield to His instruction as well as His working, and put aside the junk of my life that comes between me and Him.

Then I think of last weekend’s silent retreat [I attended] and what it taught me. And one thing I suddenly realize more clearly is The Refining Power of Silence.

I have no time left. I’ll have to write that in a separate post.

Maybe I’ll start right now in a third five-minute free write…


6 thoughts on “Fire-free Refining?

  1. I have read two posts now that almost didn’t happen or started again. And I make the third. Yes it is a hard word to wrap around and we do have a part in it. I think of Israel. They obeyed and disobeyed for centuries. Still God’s refining process does not stop. Visiting fmf#83.

    1. Some words are harder to process sometimes, aren’t they, Mary? And the circumstances we’re in at the time we get the prompt can make it harder or easier, depending… But I’m glad you didn’t quit and neither did I. Blessings to you! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Sylvia- Thank you for pressing through the resistance to this word in order to reveal to us/me the freedom that is gained in surrendering to the refinement. And I can relate to the refinement of silence and look forward to your reflections on that topic. I spent a lot of time in silence in my daily life and sometimes I welcome it and sometimes it scrapes against my soul like sandpaper on a rough cut piece of wood.

    1. And thanks for your encouragement, Kel. Yes, the sandpaper feel. I get that. I do have a lot to share about both my and other retreat attendees reactions to and reflections on the silence. But I seem to need more “silence” here to do more processing myself first. Your last post (about spiritual doodling, if I may call it that) is helping me do that, because today is a Snow Day around here (snow and ice) and a perfect time to “fool around” at the art table (smile)–and you have inspired me yet again!

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