Kenneth Samuel: Ready for Refinement

"People assault the flinty rock with their hands and lay bare the roots of the mountains. They tunnel through the rock; their eyes see all its treasures." - Job 28:9-10 

This summer I had the privilege of visiting Mount Rushmore-the magnificent monument to American ideals etched into the stunning Black Hills of South Dakota. 

Mount Rushmore is as much a testimonial to human perseverance as it is a memorial to the four esteemed presidents it memorializes. In 1926, the year before construction of the monument began, most South Dakotans dismissed the whole idea as fanciful. Environmentalists claimed that the project would deface the mountainside. 

Others asked how a mortal sculptor could ever improve upon what God had already designed. 

Yet, if the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, did not actually improve nature's design of Mount Rushmore, he certainly did refine it, and in so doing, he revealed its inner beauty. In order to uncover the radiant, consistent stone upon which the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are set, the sculptor had to blast off some 450,000 tons of surface rock. 

Life is seldom all that it can be at face value. The really rich stuff lies much deeper than what we see on the surface. Diamonds and gold must be mined. Sugar and oil must be refined. Intimacy requires one to see deeply into me. 

Before we can get to the stuff we can use, we have to carefully and prayerfully remove the stuff we can't use. Always carefully and prayerfully, lest we discard the substance with the superficial. 

This is the process of refinement. No one is ready to build anything without it. 


God, let your refinement work in us and through us to uncover the depths of your glory. Amen.


From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotional. Visit