I held the rod as carefully as I could, melting the glass, slowly turning, round and round, in the blazing orange flame, hoping to create as perfectly round a glass bead as possible. It was my first time. I was afraid of getting burned, but so enamored with the melting stick of glass, that I found myself moving closer to the flame. The edges of the bead glowed bright orange in the flame, and I sat mesmerized.
Refinement is a process.
When I turned the rod slowly and evenly, all sides became more even, the perfect glass bead, but when I turned the rod unevenly or not quickly enough, the molten glass clumped, necessitating more turning, more refining in the flame. I constantly turned the rod until my arm hurt from holding my elbow up, still and steady, until I had finished eight glass beads, now all buried in the vermiculate pail to cool. Polished and pulled from the rod, they created a beautiful bracelet. It was a fulfilling chore.
It wasn’t until the next morning at a women’s bible study (Beth Moore’s Breaking Free) on 1 Peter 1: 6-7 that I realized what a biblical experience it had been. God wasn’t just giving me a unique hobby, but instead was providing me with a vivid picture of what it means to be refined by His fire, showing me that a beautiful luminescent glass bead could result to shine His own light. You see, I was that bead. God has brought me through trials that have begun to refine me. The result of that refinement is a changing path of life and a new career choice, both reflections of my genuine faith in Him.
” In all 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 so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1: 6-7
This verse led me to reflect on my most difficult trial. In the early nineties when I was 16, the team of University of Maryland Medical Center doctors just shrugged their shoulders. “It’s impossible to say you won’t be able to have children because they’re making great strides in IVF,” they told me. I had been diagnosed with “primary amenorrhea,” which simply put meant I had not gotten my period. My concerned parents had explored all medical possibilities. Genetically and structurally I was fine, so they could find nothing to fix. Doctors put me on birth control pills to force a period, which also helped preserve my bone mass from early osteoporosis, but were unable to find a cause or a fix to the problem that persisted. These doctors doubted I would be able to ovulate and get pregnant naturally.
It was then, with my growing faith, that I started praying for a child.
Fast-forward to 2006 when my husband and I decided to try to have a child and sought out an IVF doctor. As we started the long process of testing, we spontaneously became pregnant with our son Nathan. It seemed so easy at the time! Why had I worried? Problem solved.
But I jumped to this conclusion too soon. Over the last six-and-a-half years, I have been diagnosed with “secondary infertility,” that is, an inability to have more children after having a first. A few years passed before God put on my heart the understanding of what a true miracle Nathan was, a gift from God from all those years of heartfelt prayer.
I didn’t want my son to be lonely.
You see, I was an only child, and when my son was young, I desperately wanted him to have a sibling around the same age to avoid what I felt was the loneliness of my childhood. But even with the help of IVF doctors, it was not meant to be. In fact, my egg count was practically non-existent, so they pointed us toward adoption. We even signed up for embryo adoption, which meant adopting an embryo created by another couple that was unwanted. This embryo could then be implanted in me to carry to term. However, our IVF clinic stopped the program just as our names reached the top of the list, for what they deemed were legal reasons.
A period of grief…
I mourned the loss of what I had wanted my family to look like. My heart literally ached, and my guilt overflowed that I could not give my husband a larger family. My ache was compounded by my mother’s illness. After a serious heart surgery, I spent 10 days at my mother’s side as she was put on the heart transplant list with congestive heart failure.
It was then that God stepped in with a new plan. He pulled at my heartstrings to volunteer at a church-based pregnancy clinic that looked to fulfill underprivileged pregnant women’s emotional and physical needs with free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds. The support further helped women to know that they were cared for, so they could consider their own feelings for keeping their unborn child. You may assume this would have been too painful, but in a year and a half volunteering in the clinic, meeting many women’s emotional needs, I healed.
God brought me through that fire to a new place of service.
Finding God’s fulfillment in my infertility didn’t just mean accepting circumstances, although I eventually did. It was mainly accepting that my trials were for a reason, that God wanted to redirect my life’s work. My past work in preservation had become dull and lacked a vibrancy to help others, which I craved. I realized through volunteering at the pregnancy center that I was meant to meet others’ needs firsthand, in a more fulfilling way, the same way I had met my mother’s needs over those 10 days in the hospital.
I was meant to become a nurse!
Though I went forward with much trepidation, I trusted that God would help me persevere. With God’s grace, I am now finishing my first year of a two-year RN (Registered Nurse) program. The program has stretched me academically, physically, and foremost, emotionally. Many patients have already touched my heart over my short clinical experience--such as the sorrow of parents who could not take home their jaundiced baby, and the man dying of bone cancer who didn’t want to burden his wife with his struggles because he knew she couldn’t handle it. As hard as it can be, I am so grateful for this opportunity. I trust God will lead me where I can do his work, using my past struggles to connect with patients and their families on a deeper level, praying my way through, and comforting whenever I can.
So in essence, I’m on a path that still has me turning very slowly in that bright orange flame, and I pray that God turns me slower and more evenly through those flames because I know it will make me His.
What has God used to refine you? Tell us HERE!
Christie Rule is always busy learning something, a stack of books at her bedside. She is beyond grateful for the support of her loving husband Simon, married almost 10 years. Together, they are taking on the challenges and joys of raising their only son Nathan.