For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. Psalm 66:10 (NIV)
I worked on a piece of art glass for several days and was eager to get it into the kiln. I rushed home tonight and did so before doing any chores or fixing supper because I could not wait to fire it. What I forgot until after I had started the kiln was that art glass pieces have to be fired and cooled at a much slower pace than ordinary creations. Usually I jump the temperature by one whole notch on the dial every fifteen minutes reaching 1,000 degrees in an hour. Then, after ten minutes at a high heat, I can turn off the kiln and my work is done. But, for the art glass, I had to slow that increase in half so could only move the dial a half every fifteen minutes taking two hours to reach 1,000 degrees. After a quick jump to 1,380 degrees where I let it “soak” (or sit at a certain temperature) for fifteen minutes, I flash cooled the kiln down to 1,150 degrees by rapidly opening and closing the lid of the kiln. At that point, ordinarily, I would turn off the kiln and let it cool down by itself. That process takes about eight hours to do. But, with art glass, you have to be more careful about “annealing” or letting the glass harden after the high temperature causes it to soften and fuse. Art glass has many layers, and if the glass is not annealed properly, it could crack and break. So, I turned the kiln off until it dropped to 960 degrees and then, maintained that temperature for ninety minutes. At the end of the ninety minutes, then, I let the kiln drop to 780 degrees and let it soak again for forty five minutes. Right now, I am waiting for that last cycle so I can turn off the kiln and go to bed. The whole process has taken about six hours between letting the kiln cool and then, turning it back on again for the two annealing phases. I had not intended on staying up so late tonight and will remember not to fire art glass anymore after working all day long! But, in between running out to the garage to monitor the kiln every fifteen minutes, I got a lot done. My house is now in that schizophrenic stage halfway between normal and Christmas. One tree is still decorated, and I have some collections to put away, but the mantel, table and most of the house is cleared of Christmas for another year. As I worked, I wondered about where next Christmas might find us. The future is a mystery. One thing I know for sure, whatever comes even the trials, God will use to make me into who He wants me to be. Like the heat of my kiln molds the glass into a beautiful picture, God will refine me as well. I can trust that His plan is a good one.