I recently stumbled across a training video by a master craftsman in which he demonstrated making a powerful sword from raw steel.
I learned that to forge steel, you put it in the fire. As soon as it is glowing fiercely from the heat, you take it out of the fire and immediately (while it is still red-hot) hit it with blow after blow on the anvil, beating it flatter and flatter. Finally, you plunge it into cold water. Then you repeat the process over and over.
That heating-beating-cooling cycle compresses the molecules together, making the steel much denser. If not done that way, the first time the sword strikes another sword, it will shatter and the sword handler’s life may be lost.
You may notice the same pattern in your life. Think of the times in your life when you were on fire for God, white-hot in your devotion to Him, and glowing with spiritual fervor. You felt you could accomplish great things for God and you were willing to take on any challenge in order to further the Lord’s Kingdom. Your only desire was to be a sword in the Lord’s hand and to be used as He willed.
Perhaps at just that moment life began to strike you with blow after blow. Unexpectedly you were beaten again and again by life’s circumstances until your enthusiasm dissipated and your spiritual life felt as if it had grown cold.
“What happened to me?” you wondered. “I was so on fire for the Lord, and suddenly I feel beaten and cold. Certainly the enemy must have done this to me!”
Repeating this cycle can cause you to feel that either you are too immature and unstable to be used by God, or that for some reason the devil is able to dash your dreams whenever you begin to make some progress.
But think again about the swordsmith, then turn and look at God. When you asked God to use you in powerful ways for the Kingdom’s sake, He said yes and began to place you on the anvil in order to prepare you for that work.
The rhythm of fire and beating and cooling, and fire and beating and cooling, is necessary to become a forged-steel tool in the hands of the Master.
What a difference it makes to realize that it is God who has you on the anvil! God brings you to the place where you are on fire for Him, and then suddenly life brings blow after blow, beating you lower and lower until you are cold. But then God picks you up, and soon you are on fire for Him again. And the process repeats itself.
But the process is not for nothing and it is not forever.
God is making you unbreakable for the day of battle, and it is a kindness to save you. In that day of battle, your enemy’s sword will shatter rather than yours because the Lord is permitting your faith to be tried as by fire and forged like steel.
No one likes to be burned and beaten, but everyone wants to become forged steel.
Even our Lord Jesus went through this in His own life!
It says in Hebrews 5:8 that even though He was God’s Son, He “learned obedience through His suffering.” This verse does not mean that Jesus was ever disobedient, but it indicates to us that the suffering He went through somehow forged His obedience in an even deeper way. It is a good thing that this was permitted in His life here on earth, because the next verse tells us how high the stakes were: “…He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him!”
As an act of courageous faith, lift up the coldness you have been feeling lately, lift up the hammer blows that life has been raining down upon you, and give thanks to God for the incredible privilege of being used by Him. He heard your prayer that you would be used mightily for His name’s sake, and He has you in the process of becoming what that mighty use requires.
You may not enjoy the process of preparation, but you will be eternally thankful to God for the results in your life. By faith, begin praising Him for His goodness and thanking Him for His work in your life. He has chosen you and agreed to use you!
Thank You, Father, for Your incredible kindness in choosing to use us, even if that choice causes us to experience the sometimes painful process of being transformed into Your workmanship. Thank You that these light and momentary trials are achieving for us and in us something that has the weight of eternal glory. Praise Your holy name!