Crucible Moments

Paul Turner, International Team Leader

‘As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.’ (Matthew 4:18-22)

Simon Peter and his brother Andrew had been out fishing when Jesus comes by and invites them to follow him and be a part of his story of good news, hope and transformation. What a moment for these humble, ordinary fishermen - to be called personally by Jesus to follow him. Peter could never have imagined then where that call would lead. It was a crucible moment for those first followers of Jesus. Why crucible? I’m not talking about the venue in Sheffield where the snooker world championships have taken place, no.

A crucible is a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. While, historically, crucibles were usually made from clay, they can be made from any material that withstands temperatures high enough to melt or otherwise alter its contents.

A crucible is a great metaphor for those life-changing moments that we’ve all experienced, I’m sure. It seems that Peter’s life was full of them.

From choosing to follow Jesus, stepping out of the boat, witnessing at first hand Jesus’ miracles, having his feet washed by Jesus, denying him, being restored and commissioned by Jesus, being a part of the early church, giving his life for Jesus, wow!

The pandemic has at times seemed like an extended crucible moment. We’ve perhaps wondered how much more we and others can take.

Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4 beginning at verse 7 says: ‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.’

Only last week I was taking part in a board meeting of the Arco Iris, Rainbow Association, in Huaraz, Peru. In the chit chat at the beginning, I asked a fellow board member and member of Latin Link working in Huaraz sent from Spain how she was doing? Not great, came the reply. She explained how on the previous evening the mother of a boy, I’ll call him David, had died after a short illness from Covid. Just 15 months ago she had adopted David as a single woman from the Arco Iris children’s home. I was so moved; what does the future hold for 11-year-old David now? Will the extended family step up to care for him? Like David’s, there are so many heart-breaking stories. Even as our heart breaks, we know our Heavenly Father’s heart breaks as well. As his heart breaks, He calls us to be a part of his story of hope.

My own crucible moment came on Palm Sunday 2004, 17 years ago. I was driving to church to be the back end of a donkey in a sketch. I never made it as on my way a van pulled out in front of me, and I crashed into it at 60 miles an hour. I still remember in the split second before impact, clearly thanking God for my life and expecting to wake up with him. Miraculously after the crash, I was able to crawl out of the car and lie by the side of the road. In a matter of minutes, an ambulance arrived and took me to Lister hospital only a few minutes away.

As I lay on my back that day, I asked God why and what he’d spared my life for? Why a year earlier my cousin had not been so fortunate when he came off his motorbike on the way to work?

To cut a long story short, the personal injury money covered three short trips to Peru to explore possibilities of working there with Latin Link. So, it was that on Valentine’s day 2007 that I flew out to Lima and then to Arequipa, where I worked initially as a teacher at the Shalom Centre. A few weeks before my accident, Ruth Kirkpatrick – now my lovely wife, Mrs Turner – flew to Lima as she stepped into God’s story with Latin Link in Peru.

Whether you are facing a crucible moment or just seeking to daily follow Jesus, if God is stirring something inside you about stepping into the story of what He is doing in and from Latin America, please talk and pray with someone about that and the team in Britain and Ireland would love to hear from you. We’d love for you to join our community of ordinary heroes.


PRAYER

Thank you, Lord, that you are with us in the crucible moments of life. Thank you that you step into our story and strengthen us when we are weak, give us courage when we are afraid and invite us to step into the story of what you are doing around the world. Thank you that, because of your unfailing love and presence with us, we can celebrate the incredible truth: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7). Lord, thank you for how you can turn even the darkest seasons of despair into opportunities to share hope. Show us who is facing a crucible moment and needs your hope today. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

• When have you faced a crucible moment in life?
• What did it stir inside of you and how did you respond?
• Ask God to show you who is facing a crucible season of life at the moment and how you can share His hope with them.