Grow | Devotion #1: The Forging Process
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV)
A few years ago, on Christmas morning, my wife accomplished something pretty amazing. She finally, for the first time in our nearly 20 years of married life, gave me a gift I never expected to get. She was so excited that morning to set in front of me a heavy and oddly shaped package to open. Each tear of the brightly colored paper revealed more and more of a small anvil and a blacksmith’s hammer. She knew that, for many years, I had a desire to learn the lost craft of blacksmithing and so she apparently filed that away in her mind and waited for her moment to surprise me.
It may sound strange to hear it, but I have learned many spiritual lessons from the art of blacksmithing. Most principles are specifically related to the biblical concepts of growth, correction, and discipleship. Each piece in the blacksmith’s shop paints a significant spiritual picture. Consider the mighty anvil; for instance, it is a great picture of God’s Word, the Bible. The bedrock promises and the instruction of the Word of God cannot change or be moved. The same is true of an anvil; it does not move. It is so strong, so stable, so sure, that it forces all other metal to conform to it. The Bible is like this. It does not change; it cannot be broken or moved. It is sure, stable, and strong. As our lives come into contact with it, we are changed more and more into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course, the blacksmith’s hammer is the primary tool a smith will use to shape any metal. Each blow of the hammer changes that steel into what the artist sees. He has a goal in mind, and he knows how to get it there. He sees in that raw metal what no one else sees. He sees what that steel can be, and it is something that steel will never become on its own. It will never get there apart from his hand. So, he uses his hammer to get it there. The blacksmith’s hammer is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord uses His Spirit as the hammer in our lives, against the anvil of His Word to lead, teach, correct, guide, encourage, and comfort. In short, the Holy Spirit shapes us into what He sees and wants us to be.
The next spiritual picture is that of the furnace. When I want to change that metal, I must heat it up. This is where the furnace is essential. It is an intense process! The furnace often exceeds temperatures of 3,000 degrees! However, without the heat of the furnace, the metal simply does not move. It dents and dings and if I continue to hit it with the hammer, it actually begins to develop microscopic cracks in its structure until it finally breaks. But, when I use the furnace to heat the steel, every hammer blow moves the steel like soft clay. It is truly amazing to watch something so hard be softened by the heat of the furnace and move into the shape you desire. The furnace is essential to the shaping process of the steel. The same is true of God’s discipline. It is essential in our lives. The furnace of God’s correction, teaching, and discipline is used in our lives to shape us. Through the furnace of His discipline, He softens the hardest of hearts and makes them moldable in His hands, and we need it to move, grow, and become what our Lord wants us to be. We need the furnace of God’s discipline.
There are many other tools a blacksmith employs to accomplish his task. We could talk about each one, but at the end of the day, the goal is always simply to shape that metal into what he sees. That is our Lord’s purpose, too. He is the Master Blacksmith. He already sees what He wants to do in you and He knows how to do that in your life. His goal will always be to shape us into the image of our Lord Jesus and so He uses the furnace of discipline to soften us, the hammer of His Spirit to shape us, and the anvil of His Word to make us.