Forged In Fire

Job – so much pain, so much suffering, so much loss. But he understood that there was a greater purpose.  In the midst of it all, he could say with certainty that he knew that God saw him and he would emerge from his trials with all the impurities burned away.

I have certainly not experienced the types of trials that Job had, or that so many others face on a daily basis, but we all have things that are “trials” for us.  This verse has been one that I come back to over and over again in my adult life.  Yes, adulting is hard!  It only gets harder with each successive child added to the family, career advancement, and ministry responsibility.  There is less and less down time and more and more needs to be met.  It seems like a constant juggling act.  I feel constantly under pressure – like a diamond.  Sometimes I wonder when I will get a chance to breathe and recuperate.

It is these times that I turn to my understanding of this verse.  “But He knows the way that I take…” Job acknowledged that God wasn’t ignorant of his suffering.  He is deeply “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3) – our grief, pain, stress, worry, anxiety, weariness.  But God’s plan for us is to use these hard times to strengthen us, to burn away the weak parts.  We have all heard sermons on how you have to burn gold to remove the impurities, yada, yada, yada.  But did you know that heat strengthens metal?
I’ve started watching this new tv show, Forged in Fire, where blade smiths (that sounds so cool!) compete to create their blade of choice from unformed metal.  Through a series of steps in the competition, they form the blade, refine the blade and attach the handle, and have the blade tested for strength and sharpness.  A team of experts evaluates the blades at each step to eliminate one competitor.  These experts also provide commentary as the bladesmiths are working.  I’m absolutely fascinated by this show!  If you weren’t absent that day in school, you know that you have to heat metal to make it soft, using a hammer and anvil to form it into a desired shape before the metal cools down again.


The metal must be heated to extreme temperatures so that it is white hot and malleable.  But the thing that I have learned from this show is that even after the blade has been hammered into the desired shape, it must be “heat treated” to completely harden the metal.  If the blade isn’t heated to a hot enough temperature, sometimes several times, the blade will be “soft” which allows for the possibility that the blade could break or warp.  After this heat treating is done to the bladesmith’s satisfaction, he “quenches” the blade, plunging it into a container of oil to stop the heating process and set the blade.


This is our life.  We are being put into the fire to soften us, melt away our exteriors of control and perfection.  The trials of our lives are God’s hammer and anvil, shaping us into vessels, tools, and weapons for His glory.  The constant process of heating and reheating is our own “heat treat” to set the shape that God has created.  At certain times we will feel the “quench” where He plunges us into His holy oil – the presence of His Spirit – to cool us.  But if we are to be effective, and not defective, we must remain in the fire with the promise of the strength and the gold to come.


Wait Continually

I’ve been reading in the book of Hosea the last few days as I read through the bible.  It’s really depressing!!!
The people have continuously turned from God and sacrificed to any other gods and idols that they can find! And still God has words of hope and love for his people tucked in amidst his anger, frustration, and disappointment.
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So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.  Hosea 12:6

God called them to return, just as he wants us to return to Him.  He desires the constant communication that He had with us in the Garden of Eden where the connection was so close and intimate.  But we have chased after other things that take up our time and take time away from our relationship with God – social media, work, hobbies, family. If these things replace time with God, they are our own personal idols.

Thankfully, God says that we can return to Him with His help.  We are never too far gone to renew or begin that relationship with him.  Love, Justice, and Patience – these things are necessary to begin our journey back to God.  As much as impulsiveness and selfish desires led you to pursue things other than God, you must turn in the opposite direction to find your way back to him.  Let go of anything that stands in the way of your relationship with God and wait for Him to come to you as He did to Adam and Eve in the Garden.


I Am With You

Haggai is a short book. It doesn’t even take up 2 pages in my Bible, but its message is profound. The people of Israel had returned from exile in Babylon, built houses and planted crops, but they were not yielding anything. God speaks through Haggai and points out to the people that they have spent time preparing their own homes, but His home-the Temple-lay in ruins. 

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. – Haggai 1:12

And with their obedience, God speaks these words, “I am with you,” and goes on to reassure them that He will now begin to bless them. 

From the time we are young, we are told the basic necessities of life are food, shelter, water, and clothing. That’s what these people were taking care of! But in the Kingdom of God there is a paradigm shift. God is first. If we look to him and carefully tend our relationship with him, everything else will flourish from that. 

How many times have we wondered why nothing was going right in our lives? Have we taken the time to see if our priorities were in order? Were we tending to what we thought was necessary before we took care of our relationship with God? (Now I’m not saying that every trial or bump in the road is from our neglect of God, but we should definitely check that first!) All we need to do is re-prioritize our lives!

And what if up to this point we have made a mess of things? Here is the second great message of Haggai: 

Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.” – Haggai 2:19

They had already sown their crops amidst the neglect of their relationship with God. You would think that God would say, “Too bad. Here’s to better crops next year.” But no, the minute they decide to make the change and re-prioritize, God says that he will begin to bless them. 
Even if we’ve screwed up and gotten everything wrong, God can redeem our mistakes. I challenge you to take a look at your life and see if you’ve been neglecting your relationship with God. If so, decide today to make a change.