My youngest son, Aidan, is obsessed with the TV show, Forged in Fire. He refuses to miss a single episode and has programmed the DVR to record EVERY show. Then he binge watches episodes for hours on end! Recently, I began watching a few episodes with him, just so I would have something to talk with him about. (If you have ever tried to pull conversation out of a teenage boy then you understand my plan!) To my amazement, I am actually quite enthralled with this show. Honestly, I am as shocked about this as you are as bladesmithing is not exactly in my wheel house of interests.
Forged in Fire chronicles four bladesmiths competing against one another to create the best usable knife. They are given ten minutes to draw out a design and then three hours to take a lump of metal and turn it into a beautiful and effective tool. You ought to see these guys (and gals) as they run around heating the metal in the forge, then pounding out the shape that they want with blow after blow of the shaping hammer. Then reheating and reshaping, on and on until they get the blade just the way they want it. It is painstaking, back breaking work that takes total concentration and enormous patience as they fight to mold and shape the lifeless lump of steal through precisely timed exposure to the fire and meticulous shaping.
Once they have the size and shape of the blade hammered out and they are ready to “set the metal”, they pop the blade back into the forge one more time; heating the metal to a blazing 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Then comes the trickiest part of all, they must pull the glowing orange-red blade from the forge and quickly plunge it into a vat of oil. This causes a fire ball to shoot up from the vat and at the same time instantly hardens the steal. I honestly do not know how they keep from setting themselves on fire when they do this. It is amazing and frightening to watch! If I were to ever try this (and I won’t as I have difficulty even lighting a gas grill) I would no doubt burn my eyebrows off within the first five minutes!
After the oil bath, the bladesmiths closely inspect their blades for straightness of edge, and hardness of metal. If they detect the slightest roll or dull edge, or if they realize that the metal did not harden completely, they will start the process over again; forging the blade in the fire and hammering out the shape…again and again and again until they have just the blade they had planned.
While watching yet another episode with my son last week, I begin to think about how my life, on more than one occasion, has been “forged in fire”. It is painful to admit, but there have been many times when I have been held to the relentless flame of difficulty and trouble. Some of these fires I made for myself; heaping sin upon sin on the open flame, raising the heat to insufferable temperatures. Some were made by people and circumstances around me; bringing intense sorrow and agony. At times, there have even been flames of righteousness that God has stoked in my life.
Yes, there have been some fires.
Thank goodness my heavenly father is a master bladesmith! You see, in every fire, he has known just how long to keep me there. Always long enough to make my spirit pliable and ready for shaping, but never so long that the fire rendered me useless. He has again and again pulled me from the flames at just the right time, and then applied his hammer of mercy, grace, and righteousness to shape and reshape, work and re-work, until the outline of the life he had intended for me began to form.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have preferred for there to have been another way for God to mold me to the purpose and plan he has for my life; but I am ultimately a pretty hard (stubborn) lump of metal. However, I know for sure that each time I have faced the forge, God used it to mold me anew and harden the steal within.
Do you feel as if you are being forged by fire right now?
Do you despair of the flames that are raging around you?
Fear not! God never allows us to face the fires of life, the forging of our spirits, alone. I believe that it causes him great pain to see his children in the blaze of their own making, but he never turns his eye away. He is vigilant; watching all the while. Deliberate in his desire to turn the despair of the flame into the victory of a purposeful life. What unfathomable love he has for us that he plucks us from our rightful hopelessness and plunges us into the vat of his mercy. Stealing within us the ability to be a purposeful tool for his kingdom.
At the end of the day a knife, no matter how beautifully crafted, is a useless instrument until wielded in the hand of a master. I pray that as we become the creation that God planned for us to be that we will allow ourselves to be wielded in his mighty hand. Useful and focused on bringing glory and honor to our Father; the master bladesmith.