The following was published in The Gisborne Herald on Saturday 3 September 2008:
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
As a child on the family farm, I once had the job of melting down lead pipes to make sinkers for our next fishing trip. Melting lead was a simple enough process. Once brought to the correct heat, the lead pipes would melt into a hot grey liquid. The heat would cause the ‘dross’ – all the dirt and impurities within the lead – to rise to the surface, where it could be scrapped off with a piece of wood. In that instant the lead would look almost silver, like a mirror, and I could see my reflection quite clearly. As the lead continued to be heated, more dross would continue to rise to the surface and the process would continue until the lead was as clean as possible. If the lead was not treated this way before it was moulded into sinkers, the lead would retain its impurities and quite probably fracture when faced with the stresses of the sea and its currents.
I’ve often thought that we, as Christians, are something like the lead I used to melt. Sometimes when the heat comes on, all the rubbish comes to the surface. But when God wipes away that rubbish from our lives, in that instant, we reflect him clearly. In those moments when we are free from impurity, we reflect the image of God.