Saturday, October 20

A Forging by Pain

 forge 1  (fôrj, frj)
1. A furnace or hearth where metals are heated or wrought; a smithy.
v. forged, forg·ing, forg·es
1.To form (metal, for example) by heating in a forge and beating or hammering into shape.
2. To give form or shape to, especially by means of careful effort: forge a treaty; forge a close relationship.
intr.v. forged, forg·ing, forg·es
3. To advance gradually but steadily: forged ahead

I have been meaning to write this for some time now.  I've been ruminating on this thought - reflected in the title - since the beginning of September. A few weeks before I wrote the title for this post, I received some news threw me into a Giant Wrestling Match with God. On par with Jacob's wrestling match. Only that I demanded that the Lord bless me and he didn't. At least, he didn't bless me the way I wanted.

(It would be easy to try to come up with some quick redemptive "insight" into how he did bless me at that point, but I think that his blessing will be revealed in the future, with clearer vision looking back. And it's not lost on me that Jacob's blessing came also with a limp.)

What did result from that news was that the terrible pain I was in - the wrenching pain and confusion -  seemed to intensify everything. Everything. Everything about what I thought about my circumstances, the future, If God was Good, my anger with "his plan," my insight into what I wanted. What I demanded.

 In the midst of all of this, I pondered - a lot - the idea of sanctification by fire,  by crucible.

In the past, I thought that the idea of burning dross from silver (me) sounded quite painful, thank you. In my mind, though, it was always the image of silver being refined "until you can see his face in the reflection." Right? yes? It almost sounds pretty.

These current circumstances, they didn't feel like silver becoming pretty. Certainly it felt like burning, but burning with pounding. Hammering. With Careful Effort. Hard. Black.

I was being - am being - forged.

Yep. Like this.

This is what sanctification feels like.

Isn't it beautiful? I think so. I think the photo is beautiful, and I think wrought iron is beautiful when it is completed.

But as the iron, as that thing so strong and beautiful in the end, when it is demanded that it change and form to another, it is weak. Helpless. Lying there, Burning.

I can't help but read the last definition above: To advance gradually but steadily. It is wonderful that the word has so many robust and appropriate applications. I am advancing in my faith, gradually, steadily. He is not disappointed with my slow progress.  Psalm 72:13; Psalm 138:6

And this morning, while reading my devotions, I came across this hymn:

Beneath thine hammer, Lord, I lie
with contrite spirit prone
Oh, mould me till to self I die
and live to thee alone

With frequent disappointments sore
and many a bitter pain
Thou laborest at my being's core
till I be formed again

Smite, Lord! thine hammer's needful wound
my baffled hopes confess
Thine anvil is the sense profound
of mine own nothingness

Smite, till from all its idols free
and filled with love divine
My heart shall know no good but thee
and have no will but thine

 Frederic Henry Hedge

1 comment:

Laura Ward said...

Really good - very thought-provoking for me! I don't like the pain that comes from being in the fire, but at the same time I'm grateful that He loves me enough to inflict it in order that I might emerge more like who He created me to be. A "severe mercy" as Sheldon Vanauken would say.

With octaves of a mystic depth and height