My little brother Riley tells a lot of funny stories about his high school days, but one in particular involves a somewhat poorly made cabinet/dresser that he put together in wood shop. He tells the story that during this semester in class he disregarded most of the detailed and mundane instructions that the shop instructor gave because he didn’t have time for them (or maybe because he was pretty sure he could just figure it out on his own). Either way, the semester came and went, and the time arrived for their ‘projects’ to be completed, passed off, and then taken home. At this point the exchange between Riley and Coach Lunt (shop teacher) went something like this:
Riley: (as he gathers his wooden project and heads towards the door) “See you later coach, thanks for all the good times”.
Coach: “Woah, where do you think you are going with that (pointing to Riley’s project)?”
Riley: “Home – I’m finished with it”.
Coach: “No. There is absolutely no way on earth that thing is leaving my shop.”
Riley: “What are you talking about – it’s totally fine”
Coach: “If someone sees that leaving my shop, I will probably lose my job”
Riley: “Well, I think it’s awesome”
Coach: “Bring it to me…..right now.”
Following this exchange, Riley watched while Coach Lunt performed an entire semester’s worth of rehabilitative and reconstructive wooden surgery on Riley’s project in order to make it not only functional, but appealing. Glue was no longer the primary material and most of the lines were straight and the drawers would actually open. At which point, Coach Lunt was at least willing to let it leave his shop – essentially with his name on it.
There is a scripture passage that we can relate to this idea; it is found in 1 Nephi 20: 10-11.
For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, yea, for mine own sake will I do this, for I will not suffer my name to be polluted…
Short, simple, yet so amazing.
We need to remember at the outset that he is currently (like right now) refining us, which by necessity places us in situations and circumstances that we don’t like or want to be – yet they force us to deal with frustration, anger, exhaustion, or anxiety. He terms this place the “furnace of affliction”. Don’t forget that while we are there (in the middle of the despair) – he wants to know how we will act, what we will choose, what we will say, and if we rely on him and trust him and continue to be kind, patient, loving, faithful, etc. while he is seemingly gone from before our face. If we continue to choose him, we make ourselves eligible to be chosen by him.
But why does he do this? Why does he not allow a shoddy excuse for a cabinet to leave his shop? Well, because he will not suffer his name to be polluted – just like Coach Lunt.
The Lord is a master craftsman, a shaper of souls, and a maker of men (and women). If we try and waltz out as a (self-proclaimed) completed project before he thinks we are ready – we’ll have a conversation similar to the one Riley had with Coach Lunt – and he will remind us that even though we may think we are pretty awesome, that we have made some progress, or even if we are totally satisfied with our current state, in his view we haven’t spent nearly enough time in the furnace to burn off all that crud and he’s not allowing us to leave his shop until he’s made some more improvements. So let’s all just hang tight, get as comfy as we can, and watch him work (and try as best we can to help him help us).