I’m currently reading the book, How We Got To Now by Steven Johnson. One of the topics in the book is the innovation and craft of glassmaking. The history is quite fascinating. At one point the glassmakers where exiled to an island because they kept burning down villages and towns where they lived. Once all of the craftsman were moved into a community the development and science of glass improved. Not only for beads and vases but in its transparency and usefulness. While glass was already being used for windows, they were not the way you know of them now.
In our modern living, we expect nothing less than a transparent window. The clear, pure, glass allows light into our home and provides the opportunity to see all of the views around us. Webster’s defines transparency as “allowing light to pass through so the objects behind can be distinctly seen.” Also, “having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily perceived.”
Our daily lives require refining in order to truly allow the light to pass through us. Life certainly doesn’t begin in the state of transparency. Even from a very young age we protect ourselves with partial truths. Let’s not forget the first lesson most children learn as public etiquette – it is certainly not okay to say everything that’s on our mind. Fast forward a few years, and after a broken heart, broken trust and a continued feeling of not belonging, we are about as transparent as a block of wood.
Not unlike the discovery and innovation of glass, in order for us to be available and transparent we need to be ready for the refiner’s fire. While we may never physically be placed into a furnace over 1000 degrees, the process for some of us is no less emotionally and spiritually painful.
Community may not make the process any less painful. But, it can increase our odds of success. Going it alone, it took craftsman generations to develop even the simplest innovation in the use of glass. Once they were placed in community, their creativity and like-mindedness put them on the fast track to discovering many of the ways we use glass today
God uses community to refine us. He uses it for confession, encouragement, healing, prayer and accountability. Community is where we learn to receive the light of His grace in complete abundance.
The process, well, it’s still refining. It can be a furnace. I know, there are a 1000 reasons community is hard. But, it’s not as hard as doing it alone and never truly being as God intended. In the fire we are refined into the transparent, pure vessel, receiving the fullness and abundance of His light.
What ways has God used community to refine you to fully experience His light?