Panning for Gold. God does it too.
I toured a gold mine with my son last week.
- Loved every minute.
- Loved being with him.
- Loved learning.
Turns out, gold was discovered in Georgia in 1829, twenty years before the California gold rush in 1848. I did not know gold is found in veins of quartz ranging from the width of a pencil to as wide as one of the largest veins of quartz ever discovered, 22-feet.
How in the world did people figure out how to extract gold from a rock-hard environment buried deep underground?
The tour led by Miner John took us deep down to dark places with limited lighting, where miners once showed up for work every day. (And I dare to complain about my job?) His presentation was filled with talk about drills, digging, dynamite, tunneling, carts on rails, chisels and sledgehammers, crushing and sifting. Pay scales ranged from $1 a day for the safest jobs (normal duties) to $2 a day for the most dangerous (extracting dynamite that had failed to detonate back out of the hole in which it had been originally placed).
As I emerged back into the sunlight for a day in the mountains and fresh air, the tour stayed with me, and this verse did too.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come to you so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6, 7)
To get gold, miners had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
To prove our faith genuine, we have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials too.
No way around it.
When our life is easy, our faith is not tested. When the trials hit, however, the true strength of our faith is revealed.
After the tour, my son and I panned for gold indoors. (Totally cheating, I know.) What struck me was how involved and close to the process we had to remain.
First, we received a screen-bottomed pan filled to the brim with local sand. Tilting the pan, we dunked it into water and shook the pan back and forth in a sifting motion. Since gold is heavy, it began its journey downward through the grains of watery sand.
Then we plunged and sifted again.
Then plunged and sifted again.
Each time there was less sand left but we still couldn’t see the gold.
At the bottom, with help from the mining staff, there it was…
Seven flecks of gold.
We worked hard for that gold.
Just like we work hard to prove our faith genuine.
In the dark—drilling down for the gut determination to persevere; digging deep for the verses to nourish my soul; inserting dynamite into our circumstances by inviting God’s power through prayer; tunneling down into anonymity and obeying God for long periods of time when no one is watching; carting out the sin and debris from our heart that our circumstances reveal; chiseling and sledgehammering Satan’s lies that say we are a failure, that God isn’t enough, that our circumstances are hopeless, or that this life is too hard; crushing our self-will in obedience and letting God sift us with circumstances He has allowed, even the suffering incurred from people in our lives that aren’t trying very hard or simply can’t get beyond their own brokenness yet.
It’s dark and hard, this world…
but God stays close to us.
I am comforted by the truth that He is holding the pan of my circumstances and doing the sifting while panning for gold. Each side-to-side motion is decided and controlled by Him, giving me the opportunity to prove my faith genuine.
I can better let the sifting occur when I know His hands hold the pan.
It’s dark and hard, this world…
but as the verses say, in this I rejoice.
Rejoice? Strong word.
Every time you and I live by faith in this brief all-kinds-of-grief-filled life, our faith–when proven genuine–will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Every time you and I fling our faith straight out to God, trusting Him alone, even against all odds, it counts. We hit the target every time. Our faith is proven genuine.
Every underground decision we make by faith even in dark anonymous places–when it is just God and us–gets wrapped up into some sort of eternal reward that lasts for eternity.
In that, dear reader, we rejoice.
This is a diving bell. It was lowered into a river, trapping a pocket of air within. Miners then climbed down through the pipe at the top that remained above water and shoveled, sifted and panned for gold in the river bottom covered by the bell.
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