I want to share a story I wrote some time ago and that was published in Maximum Living Magazine. It's all about life shaping us on the anvil and preparing us for days ahead. I shall not go into why October, 2013 was my last entry, but after reading this post you may get the idea. Sometimes we're on the anvil being shaped, sometimes we're a finished product waiting and sometimes we are not sure where we are in the whole process. A lot of shaping has been going with me. Probably with you, too. Enjoy the article.
Shaped on the Anvil
My ancestral grandfather was a blacksmith and I’ve often thought of his role within his settlement at the time. A blacksmith proved an essential member of the community. Why? For one thing, one hundred and fifty years ago, the blacksmith forged and hammered tools needed to farm, to haul and to survive. That role is unnecessary today with all our inventions and engineering techniques available.
This analogy of the blacksmith, with his hammer and anvil over the fire, brings other thoughts to me today, though. I recall God’s words about being shaped or refined by fire and how fire will test the quality of each man’s work (Malachi 3:2 and I Corinthians 3:13). I, then, visualize myself as that piece of iron on the anvil and the blacksmith foraging me into a useful tool, being shaped for God’s purpose. I see myself crafted into a thing of beauty, an instrument worthy of God’s blessing. I focus on the finished product.
In the blacksmith’s day, fire sharpened iron. Thus, we might say that being salted with fire is common to man so he might become strong and refined to endure suffering and then purification. Perhaps Saint Paul had this in mind when he said in 2 Timothy 2:21 “…man…will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” We’re also told “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Admonishing and embracing one another with God’s love becomes part of our noble purpose.
Author Max Lucado, in his book titled, On the Anvil, has things to say about the fire’s refining power. The writings of Pastor Max Lucado of San Antonio, Texas have become my new-best-friend-forever and I now own twenty five of his books! Yes, I agree, a little excessive, but his words sing to me in refreshing and resourceful ways. Let me share what he says about tools in the blacksmith’s shop.
He says there are three kinds of tools found in the blacksmith’s shop. There are tools on the junk pile, tools on the anvil, and tools of usefulness lying in the blacksmith’s tool chest. The junk pile tools languish without a calling or a purpose in the scrap pile. They symbolize people with fires quenched and dreams dashed, yet unwilling to push forward. Secondly, many tools already lie on the anvil, ready to be hammered and molded, and like people with hearts open, ready for a purpose. Lastly, the tools of usefulness rest in the toolbox, primed, fired and ready for action, for the Master’s use. A desirable position.
We’re all there somewhere in that blacksmith’s shop, aren’t we?
The scrap pile doesn’t define our destiny unless we let it. We need not be victimized by one, yea two, even three failures, when we accept failure is not fatal or forever. If we’re on the anvil, being hammered and honed, let us submit willingly, knowing it is for our better good and God’s glory. It also means God still thinks we’re worth messing with. He hasn’t given up on us. If we find ourselves in the toolbox, all cleaned up and ready, let’s get excited. There’s work ahead. We are ready to be an instrument for a noble purpose for God.
Max Lucado doesn’t say it, but I will. Just because we find ourselves in one spot in the blacksmith shop, doesn’t mean we’re stuck there. It’s never too late to spring for the anvil and then push for the polished product. I will also say this. Unless we’re vigilant, we can go from polished product back to the scrap pile, or perhaps, more likely, back to the anvil. Life keeps coming at us in unexpected ways and our race continues.
Let us finish the course and win the prize.
A very happy and blessed 2014 to you.