Refinement & Beauty

Read this account of a recent community visit in East Africa:

Do you ever hear one word over and over again and you just get so tired of it? Me too. And that one word for me on Journey has been “refinement.” I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I used that word before Journey, and I don’t think I even knew the true meaning of it until now. But even still, the thought of God refining me this summer made me very fearful. I was afraid of what the Lord was going to put me through to make me more like Him. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to become more like Him; I just didn’t want to have to go through the hard stuff to get there. I constantly questioned His character. I thought: “If God is so good, then becoming more like Him is going to be nice and good and enjoyable, right?” Not right. Yes He is still good, but as Christians we are going to have to go through hard experiences for God to shape us and mold us into who He meant for us to be. Journey has been the hardest but best experience. God is so good, and Africa is so good, but being stripped of the comfort and safety of home is not the most enjoyable experience. However, He is using this to reveal so much of Himself to me and who He created me to be. I was always so incredibly confused by the process of refinement before, but let me tell you - God made it very clear to me and the fifth community was the place where He did.

I got to go on a home visit with a sweet lady named Ann, and she decided to take us to the local coffee mill. Never would I have guessed that I would see God so clearly through a coffee mill. I’m going to take you through the process of milling these small coffee beans. First, the beans are pre-cleaned and stripped of all metals that may have gotten mixed in. They are stripped of the things that don’t belong. Then the outer shells of them are cracked and the beans are exposed. After the beans are then sorted by size, they go through a machine and the hollow beans are separated from the ones that are dense and full. Those are the ones you want - the ones that are full and rich and not empty. The bean is then thrown into a fire to be roasted. It is after the coffee bean is roasted that it can be ground, made into coffee, and shared for all to enjoy. The workers did share with us, and let me tell you, we did enjoy it. Very much. I had never seen so much of the Lord in such a simple cup of coffee.  

We as humans and children of God are going to be stripped of things that do not belong in our lives, and that is not going to be an enjoyable process. We are going to be cracked out of our outer shells and exposed before God so that He can begin His work in us. He will fill us up.  Then, like the coffee bean, we can be thrown into a fire to come out as something beautiful.  The best part is that God is the one orchestrating all of it. We may not see it now and we may think we are stuck in this fire forever, but we have to remember that God is making us into something beautiful. He is making us more like Him. 

He brought me all the way to this beautiful country and to a coffee mill to show me the beauty of refinement. He didn’t have to, but He did. Community five will always hold a special place in my heart because it is there where I learned that the Lord is taking care of me. The word “refinement” doesn’t scare me as much anymore. I finally see the beauty of the Lord in the hard times and I am so incredibly thankful for sweet Ann deciding to take us where she did that day. Coffee is more than coffee to me now. It is a tangible example of how the Lord is constantly refining me and making me into something beautiful, a process that lasts my whole life. Once I drink my coffee, the life of the coffee bean is over, and its purpose was fulfilled. That is what God is doing with me. I am so thankful for the beauty He revealed to me in that local coffee mill. 

-Kelley Nabors | Journey 2016 Intern