I know “felter” really isn’t a real word, but for me it works. You know the saying, “The refiner is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire”?
Well, I’m not a refiner. Not by a long shot or any stretch of the imagination (and mine can stretch pretty far). So I’ve tweaked the saying a bit, “The felter is never far from her washing machine when her project is in the boiling water.”
I recently learned to felt. I know it takes very hot, boiling even, water and agitation to felt wool. I could get very technical and tell you exactly what part of the wool reacts to the felting and why cold water is needed to rinse the felted project, but I won’t. (mainly because I have only a very rudimentary knowledge and I’m afraid I will mess it up. But if you want to know, the wool has fibers that react to the hot water and agitation. They react by shrinking and getting a little fuzzy. Yes, that is the technical term. The cold water closes those and seals in the felting. Or something maybe, kind of, sorta like that.)
Life has a way of pouring hot water on us. That alone can cause us to be agitated, but life also agitates. Problems arise, unforeseen expenses, experiences. Experiences we didn’t ask for, look for, nor would we have chosen for ourselves. In fact,we might have chosen to run the other way, if we had known those agitations were coming.
God uses those things to mold us and shape us so we conform to His character. Just as the item we are felting is changed by the felting process, while keeping its same basic shape. So are we when God puts us in, or allows us to be in situations that “felt” us.
This afternoon I am felting a pair of slippers. I don’t know how most felters do it, but when I felt I am constantly going in the laundry room to check the progress of my project. I know that if I don’t catch it before the rinse cycle starts, I have to allow it to finish even if I’m not done felting. But if I catch it at the right time, I can check the progress and if need be, start all over again.
God does the same thing. Not that He has to continually run and check on our progress, He knows where we are, and whether we will need another time of hot water and agitation. But He stays close and He is ready to take us out at the exact moment that His plan for our felting is accomplished.
James was right. It’s not pleasant to go through a felting, but the end result is a thing of beauty and we should count that all joy.