The Harrowing Forge

The Harrowing Forge

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           The day was full of contradictions – crystal clear, blue skies, peaceful and leisurely. Who knew one event on a perfect spring afternoon would turn my world upside down?

            She was distracted by her two grandkids in the backseat of her car. Instead of looking at the road ahead, she was looking in the rearview mirror at the very moment I was crossing the street. The sudden impact sent me sailing across the roof of her car and onto the asphalt. The pain – outrageous. The diagnosis – two crushed vertebra in my spine. The challenge – staring into the face of a long recovery wondering if I would ever be well again.

            Do you know what it’s like to ride the wings of your faith in the good times but question the goodness of God in the bad? Have you ever experienced trauma that left you bewildered? This situation crept into my life with no warning. At times fear crippled me. The continual challenge was to hold onto the belief that God was good when the events of my life told me quite the opposite.

            It was during my recovery that I began shedding things I had gathered for years, things I was unaware of. But God, in His infinite wisdom, knew precisely what He was doing. At the time, however, my trial felt like a trip through the harrowing forge.

The Harrowing Forge

  I found myself in the grip of a Mighty Blacksmith. There was no point in fighting for freedom in the captivity of His powerful tongs. But who could fight the desire to escape when staring into the mouth of the harrowing forge?

            The tongs were wrapped around my waist, the very center of my distortion. For years I had contorted my form by twisting myself in ways that betrayed my very being. Now as an adult my shape was bending in queer angles that disabled my freedom and covered my beauty.

            I gazed into a bed of hot coals blazing varied shades of orange. Blue frays danced around the edges breathing hot threats as the tongs carried me closer and closer to the mouth of the furnace. Though resistance was futile I couldn’t control my urge to fight the terrifying experience before me.

            My heart raced. Sweat poured from my brow as much from angst as from the fast approaching hot temperature. I screamed in terror. Still the Mighty Blacksmith continued His work undistracted by my response.

            He plunged me into the fiery coals. Immersed in a blaze of fury my body temperature soared. Razors sliced at my flesh. My limbs threatened to dismember. My skin bubbled. My head pounded in deafening screams. My eyes were engulfed in a sea of red anger. Surely death was calling my name…

            But in one swift motion the Blacksmith pulled me from the blazing furnace. The sudden and swift drop in temperature brought much relief to my body yet I was still ablaze. I looked down to see the red glow that my form had stolen from the flames.

            Then the powerful tongs quickly laid me horizontal. I was staring at a broad span of white tiles on the ceiling. That’s when I caught my first glimpse of the Blacksmith who held my life in His hands. He looked me with an adoring gaze, even tender. Strange…I wondered why was He putting me through such pain?

            On the flat of my back I was clamped tightly across an unrelenting anvil. As the Blacksmith reached for a hammer, terror filled my entire being. He raised it over me, and I tensed from my head to my feet. Suddenly a blow struck my distorted torso sending surges of agony to the outer reaches of my whole body. I wondered why I must face such reshaping. The ugly contortions were my own. I was the one wearing them. I was the one who created them. So why was I not left to my own shame?

            Through my anguish I subconsciously noticed a change. My torso began to feel condensed somehow. Another crashing blow flattened my frame into a thinner more refined mass that extended my limbs longer than they had ever reached before. The heat was beginning to subside when the Blacksmith unclamped my wildly distorted body. He lifted me off the anvil.

            “NO!!” I screamed. “NOT AGAIN!!” I knew exactly where I was headed. Or so I thought…

            Instead of the hot coals I was plunged into a river of shock. Steam escaped my pours as water forced the hot temperature from my body. Blazing hot quickly turned freezing cold. One extreme to the next resurrected my senses. What I hoped would be the end of my misery seemed only the beginning.

I was thrust back into the sea of fire where my screams were drowned in the furnace of my suffering. Pieces of me broke away and were devoured by the red flames. As my energy drained I felt my life slipping away. I was about to give up when a powerful jolt pulled me out of the forge and into the cool air. I was laid horizontal once again. And once again I faced the unrelenting head of the hammer crashing down upon my weakened body. One blow. Two blows. Three blows. I lost count. The ebb and flow of pain blended into one steady stream of agony until there seemed to be no relief at all. No longer able to feel my body I went into a numbed state of shock. Pounding. Reshaping. Shedding…all under the eyes of the Blacksmith who’s loving gaze contradicted the events I was facing.

My shell became foreign to me. I looked down. Who are you? What are you made of now? What is your form? The walls have changed. The roof torn off and the wretched place I once called home burned to the ground.

Then one morning the door to the shop opened and He appeared. This time He did not put on His leather apron. Instead He stood over me surveying His work. He gently reached down and picked up my lifeless body. He cupped my head in His powerful hands and swayed me back and forth in a cradling motion. A smile peered from His lips and then I heard these words:

“This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”

He brought me over to a shelf adorned with a mirror. As He placed me upright I could see my full reflection.

I was beautiful. My flaws removed. My deformities healed. The old me had passed away and in the beauty of my reflection I was new. More shockingly was how my reflection captured the reflection of the Blacksmith Himself.

            The Creator who left me bewildered knew all along the missteps that created my distortion. He knew how to purify and reshape me. He knew how to heal me. He knew how to make me His own.

            How wicked of me to find my own way. How faithless of me to resist His masterful work and mistrust His care.

            Our Father knows all things. His ways are always right. His creations are always beautiful, and His will is always best.
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