Jan 28, 2010

What I Learned from a Blacksmith

A blacksmith, a true blacksmith, is a Master Craftsman.

If we look at the traditional blacksmith, not as the interesting man with a fire at the state fair, nor as the sweaty, charcoaled man of old with a leather face and massive hands, but as a master creator...or rather, as The Master Creator, we see a great deal more than just ashy cinders and bellowing bellows.

The Master Blacksmith must consider carefully what His new creation must be. He fashions each piece as He sees it already complete in His wonderful mind. He works the metal, little by little, forging it into the image it must become.

The metal He uses is always impure, but exceedingly valuable to the Master. He is careful never to waste a single piece of it. At the beginning, it is a rough, indistinct fragment. But He knows what He can do with it, deficient and useless as it appears to be.

What makes this hard, cold, bitter metal malleable at all?

It's the fire.

The more dramatic the shaping, the hotter the fire must be, and the longer the instrument must remain in it. But the Master Craftsman knows how long is too long. He knows if He leaves his masterpiece in the fire for too long, that His precious creation will smelt. So He carefully watches it in the fire, and pulls it from the fiery furnace at just the right moment.

While the metal is hot and pliable, He takes the element to the anvil. The anvil is mandatory to the Blacksmith's task. The work can't be done without it. It is the immovable rock, the unshakable Truth on which the metal is to be shaped upon.

Then comes the steady turning and pounding of the hammer upon the metal. The consistent circumstances of life, each making its mark on the soon to be tool at hand. Sometimes He pounds in the same spot, careful to get the exact curve needed before moving on to the next flaw.

He works steadily on it.

And the metal obeys.

The Blacksmith is a tool-maker. He makes tools to be used by His own hands, and to be useful for the benefit of others. The end result of the Master's long day's work is to craft a tool that is usable, available, and ready for His purpose.

My husband visited a blacksmith's shop recently, and the shop owner showed him a whole wall of tongs. The tongs come in all shapes and sizes, and are used to hold the hot metal while the blacksmith works it. He said to my husband, "You can't make tongs without...using tongs."

God could make His will come about without using us as instruments in His hands, but He chooses, like the blacksmith, to use other tools (tongs) He's made to make more tongs, which will eventually be used in His hands to make more tongs...and on it goes.

What a beautiful picture.

And now, a poem.

The Village Blacksmith
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And watch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

If you're in the fire, take heart. The Master has a plan, and it is for your good. It will make you more useful in His wise hands.


Mocha with Linda said...

I love this. And I memorized at least part of that poem in elementary or junior high school, although all I can remember are the first 2 lines!

Michelle said...

That is awesome. How creative you are! I love the thought of God shaping us even through trials to conform us to Christ image. So many people don't understand how he has to beat us to that shape. We are so oppositional to His will the fire is a neccessity.

Thanks for such a beautiful post!

Tracy said...

Thanks for a much needed reminder; I know that God uses the fire to produce good in my life, but I typically am frustrated by the pain it produces.

LeeAnn@Encouragement Is Contagious said...

...So we will come out shining like gold! I love your word picture and how we can relate it to our loving Lord who puts us through the fire as the blacksmith must do.

Just found your blog after being on Rich Gifts site and so glad I did. I am becoming a follower and will return.

It's nice to meet you!
Lee Ann

Stacey at Living by Faith said...

I love it. I especially love this ' He fashions each piece as He sees it already complete in His wonderful mind. He works the metal, little by little, forging it into the image it must become.'


Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

What a wonderful example of looking for God lessons in life.

They are all around us if we will just look and then learn form the example.

Wonderful post!

Abiding Branch said...

Just wonderful sister!! Have I told you I loved you lately? Well I do! I love this "perspective". Oh how punny we can be whence we adust our eyes to plainly see! lol
love you tons and tons!
(85 days till we see each other and our Siesta Momma!)

Abiding Branch said...

btw, totally relate to the tongs!! (tee hee) I guess "this" is what I get for telling God I had better turn into one awesome older person!! lol He does have a sense of humor! And a scent of humor because He wants to bear the fragrance of His son!! :-) Its no wonder we love the smell of campfires so much!

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Love it! Love it! Love it! Chel, awesome post. Thank you for the inspiration today!

Edie said...

What a wonderful post Chel! Very well said. Funny how He is the Master everything and in every craft we can relate the process to the way He works in our lives. In His Image. :)

jenny said...

It is still a mystery to me,...

Slendarella said...

Wonderful poem!