...life is not as idle ore
But iron dug from central gloom
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipt in baths of hissing tears,
And batter'd with the shock of doom
To shape and use.
Christianity is based on heroism and manifested in martyrdom; and the preparation for being a Christian is drastic, definite and destructive. --Oswald Chambers**Jesus said, "You must be born again." That's pretty drastic. He told his disciples that they must die if they wanted to live. That's very destructive. Peter told the churches that they would have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials so their faith could be proved genuine. There have been many heroes of the faith and many martyrs. Peter also admonishes us: "Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you."
The Christian life is not an easy one. We in North America haven't experienced this truth for the most part. Our lives are easy. We don't need to continually gather wood for heat, light and cooking; we flick a switch or turn a dial. We don't need to grind our own grain before or bake our own bread; we have stores. Water is available with the flick of a wrist, transportation is ubiquitous, knowledge, entertainment and most every desire is easily found and met.
So, it seems, with our spiritual lives. We plug into church once or twice a week, listen to good sermons on the radio, watch any number of TV evangelists, read a few Bible verses now and again, pray before meals and give mental assent to Jesus, believing we've done what's needed. We do everything we can to run from pain and discomfort and are convinced that neither are part of the blessed life. God wants us to be happy, doesn't he? Surely the bad things happening to us have their source in evil! Does he? Do they?
Gold and silver can be found in the ground if one knows where to look. So can diamonds, oil and iron. But gold and silver must be heated over fire and moulded into various shapes before we can use them. Diamonds must be cut, ground and polished before we enjoy them. Oil is put through rigorous refinement before we will put it in our machinery and iron is heated, pounded, twisted, reheated and cooled before it is useful. Why not us?
*As quoted by Oswald Chambers in "Christian Disciplines, Volume 2" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, page 320.
**"Christian Disciplines, Volume 2" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, pages 320-321.