On a brisk, fall afternoon, the 4th grade classes of Valley Christian Academy took a tour of a replicated colonial village. Most of the day was very uninteresting to me. The mini-seminars on cloth making, butter churning, and broom making didn't exactly get my blood pumping. However, towards the end of the tour, they did take us into the blacksmith shop. With cold toes and a face still sticky from the orchard apple I had just eaten, we eagerly huddled into a dimly lit, but warm workspace. I watched as the blacksmith started with a plain metal rod. He laboriously heated, re-heated, stretched, hammered, twisted, and shaped the rod into what would later become a beautiful piece of art. Maybe it was just the fact that this bored young boy was easily amused by metal and fire and pounding on an anvil, but something caught my eye that day. I was in awe of authentic workmanship.
Hand-crafted products are becoming increasingly valuable in our world today. All of the advancement in technology has slowly, but significantly bled out the number of true artists who work with their hands, those who take raw hunks of any given material and forge them into beautiful masterpieces. If you've never witnessed it (or even if you have), I highly recommend you watch this video before you continue reading: The Forged Rose.
In the grand scheme of things, you and I are just raw pieces of metal, brittle and unrefined. When we truly encounter the Lord and make a commitment to discipleship, He begins to prepare us for glory. This formation takes place through every circumstance that we encounter. But as you saw in the video, the metal has to be heated to an extreme temperature before it is workable. It's elemental composition has to be broken down for the artist can make something beautiful. Everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in our lives is all a part of this process. The Master Craftsman is forging our endurance through suffering, that our endurance would produce character, and character would produce hope (Romans 5:3-4). The fire of trials may break us down physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Yet it is in these most vulnerable moments that we are most desperate for the Lord. We are ready to be formed. And when He begins to work, it is unlike anything you have ever experienced before. It is beautiful and difficult all at the same time, yet the hope that it produces is valuable beyond measure.
Nobody likes the fire. We would all rather God just snap His fingers and turn us into something beautiful. But there is no dependency on His love in that. There is no desperation for His faithfulness. There is no choice. He knit us together in our mother's womb with feelings, emotions, and a will, not so that trials would deter us from Him, but so that these things would allow us to experience His presence and faithfulness more fully. Even in the fire, we must ask for the grace to glimpse the big picture.
There will be a day when everything is made new. Tears will stop flowing, hospital visits will end, and suffering will be but a distant memory. On that day, we will be beautiful roses on display, wrought from our Heavenly Father's hands. All of our radiance will be a magnificent reflection of the glory of the One who crafted us. We may remember our suffering on earth, but only that it brought us closer to this day.
But today is not that day. Until then, hold on to some hope.