I had the privilege, lately, in New Castle, Pa., to spend several hours in the largest tin mill in the world. Steel bars are brought in and rolled into plates. When these have come to the proper shape and thinness, they are put through a pickle called “the black pickle.” This pickle is made of a powerful acid, which cleans off the scales formed on the plates during the heating and rolling necessary to bring them to the proper shape. After this pickling process, the plates are put into great heat treatment pans and are run into a furnace where they are kept for ten or twelve hours at a dull red heat. They are then run through the rolls cold three or four times, after which they are heated again at a lower temperature; and then they are given what is called “the white pickle,” which is not so strong as the first and is intended to scour and beautify the plates. They are then ready to receive the plating of tin, which fits them for their commercial use.
As I watched this fascinating process, it seemed to me that that was very much how God makes men and women into good Christians. We must go through many a rolling and crushing process, humiliating our pride and self-sufficiency, before we can be brought to the proper shape in which God can use us. Then, if there are scales and rough edges that have come to us in the experience of life, God often puts us into a pickle of discipline that brings us outsmarting. It may be from the sharp acid experiences through which we are compelled to pass, but it brings us out with many of the little scales and meannesses of life taken away. Then God has his heating pans where we are compelled daily to remain in the hard, steady heat of constant toil under the heavy strain of the trial. If we do not rebel against God’s providence and yield ourselves to it in a submissive spirit, there will come a time when God will put us through the white pickle, and we shall know gentler experiences that are meant to beautify us and make our characters attractive and gracious, and finally, we shall come to be the perfect men and women that he wants us to be.
I picked up one of the tin plates that had just come out through the rollers after its bath in the boiling hot tin and was astonished to see that I could behold myself in it as in the best mirror. So God cannot be satisfied with us until, through the chastening and discipline of life, he brings us to such a submissive and flexible and gracious spirit that we bend ourselves with perfect readiness to fulfill his purposes, and our hearts are so purified from all the black scales of self-indulgence and pride and sinful desire that they are a mirror to his blessed face. He sees his own divine features reflected in our thoughts and ambitions.
Banks, Louis Albert. Unused Rainbows: Prayer Meeting Talks. Fleming H Revell, 1901.
2023 Louis Banks and Nathan Zipfel, revised and updated.