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Bending Steel

I took a blacksmithing class a couple nights ago.

Tony, our instructor, handed us each a steel rod about eight inches long.

“In the next two hours,” he said, “we are going to turn this shapeless piece of metal into a beautiful piece of art.”

We put our fireproof gloves and safety goggles on and Tony led us to the furnace.

Steel, it turns out, is not all that malleable. It doesn’t bend easily – even under tremendous weight. That’s why they use it to build bridges and skyscrapers.

But, when immersed in a white-hot fire, the steel begins, almost imperceptibly, to soften.

We plunged our rods into the burning coals and waited. Once they were glowing red, we took them to our anvils and began hammering and bending them into something else – something new.

I only had a few seconds to work before the steel cooled and it needed to, once again, return to the fire. It felt like a long time before there was any noticeable progress. But, little by little, it began to change shape.

As I pounded at the stubborn metal, I thought about the stubbornness of my heart. I thought about how unbending I can be. I thought about how, sometimes, the only way for God to mold and shape me is to allow me to be immersed in fire.

By the end, the steel was almost unrecognizable. The old useless gray rod had been worked into a piece of artistic twists and elegant curves.

You can see the finished product here. It is nothing to boast about, but if I – a complete novice – could draw any beauty out of a piece of steel, imagine what God could draw out of a heart of steel.

He doesn’t always soften us by fire. He doesn’t only mold and shape us in midst of the flames.

But, when He does, I don’t want to resist. I want to take the fire when it comes.

I want to be softened.

God, soften me.

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