With our charity appeal we do recycling of aluminium drinks cans to raise money. So sometimes to be useful, I used to go out with a bag and collect the cans that were thrown in the street so we could sell them later; the proceeds went to school fees in India , 150 kilos of cans = 60 pounds=1 years school fee. One day as I was doing this and also praying at the same time I had this insight.
Sometimes the cans I found were whole, just left in the street or pavement, sometimes they were dented or crushed, sometimes flattened under the wheels of vehicles, sometimes clean and sometimes covered in mud or dirty. Where ever they were and whatever state they were in didn’t bother me at all, I picked them all up because they are sold by weight and each has exactly the same value, so each was equally important to me. My first insight was that, what I was doing with my cans was what God was doing with souls, with His children. Seeking them out, many discarded, many dented or flattened by life, some clean, some muddy but each with exactly the same value in His sight.
The other thing is that I enjoyed picking up cans, because I knew that the result was that my objective (money for school fees) was getting closer and closer to being met with each can. In fact I was delighted at each one I found even if it was squashed or muddy, it gave me joy to find each one. And similarly, it was also that way for God when he could re-gain a soul of one of His creatures. So me & God were having the same kind of day !
The next stage for me is to take them to the recycling centre. This is where the old cans are smelted. I also had an insight about this too.
They put all the cans into a smelter, where they are heated up and melted (very hot) and after a while all the molten metal is on the bottom of the container and all the impurities like paint or dirt etc floats on the top and this is skimmed off. Then the molten metal is poured into ingots and solidifies. So it is the pure metal (looks like silver). This can then be used to make anything, like new cans or an engine , even airplanes. So then I had the next insight..that after God collects souls he does the same thing, purifies them so as to re-form or re-shape them in the way he wants. An entirely new life or purpose. Instead of a furnace though He uses trials and suffering in order to purge and transform and He knows how to do it, like the man who operates the aluminium smelter. Somehow it works !
I suppose some of the process is on earth, some might be in purgatory depending on how we respond and learn from these trials here. Gradually we are transformed then, sanctified through this process back into His image and likeness.
I think our hardships are our sanctification and the souls we help will be our glory in the next life, the ones we bring with us to God and those we help with our charity too.(we can never do too much in that department).
A saint is a recycled sinner ..
Sometimes when I was collecting cans, I would bend down and pick one up, only to discover that it was not made of aluminium but steel. This was bitterly disappointing because whilst the aluminium ones have a cash value and were useful to me; the steel ones were worthless and even though I had expended the same amount of effort in gathering them up, all I could do was throw them away again. Then I had another insight..
This was the same for God too. Sometimes, despite His efforts in reaching out to souls, there will always be those who would reject Him, fail to open their hearts, remain in their ‘old ways’ and remain separated from Him by their own choice. He feels the same disappointment and grief for their loss, for them His sacrifice is wasted…