Monday, April 22, 2019

Resting on the Anvil

True it is - hammers can pound things into other things and ensure other things are pounded in such a way that they no longer represent their former form. It also shapes that which it hits. It is that shaping process that God may be after in our lives, not just the work of penetrating our souls, but of really changing them. God's word is a tool used to "shape" us - it is designed to "adapt" us to the character traits that most closely resemble those of Christ's. I daresay, these are the character traits we most often lack apart from a little 'shaping' on his part!

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"
(Jeremiah 23:29)

As the hammer is wielded, the shaping process begins.  As the object being shaped is placed on top of that which acts as a backdrop to all the shaping process, the hammer comes down on the object upon which it rests, conforming it to the image of that which it rests upon. We might say that the process is one of modifying the object to take on the form of that which it is being molded against. A blacksmith has an anvil, allowing him to fashion the heated metal into a new form by the repeated blows of his hammer. The anvil serves no other purpose but to help the object being fashioned to rest upon it while it receives the work of the hammer.

If we are close enough to Jesus in the shaping process, resting firmly upon him, the image of Jesus will begin to take form within us! When God uses his Word to shape us, it is always aimed at us taking on a mature form - a character that is "modified" so that it displays that which it has been in contact with - that which it has rested upon! The sculptor or the blacksmith works with metal, shaping it until it takes on the form he desires to see. The same is true with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives - as we are repeatedly struck with the hammer of the Word, we also find it is a secure place to rest.

We are in the process of transitioning from one shape into another - until the finished work of art or usefulness of our character is ready (the object reflects that which it has been in contact with). At first, the sculptor or blacksmith sees only metal that is gouged and pocked with the evidence of the hammer having repeatedly striking it as it rested upon the solid surface it was in contact with the entire time. As time passes, the appearance of the metal changes - as it is being stretched by the hammer and that which it rests upon, it takes on a new image and is stretched to a new capacity.

We want to resist both the hammer and the continued contact with the "anvil" of his Word. Why? Simply because the Word of God is stretching us in ways we did not know we needed to be stretched and this can be a little disconcerting to us. It is molding our character - and that process is sometimes painful. The process is repeated until that which is absolutely perfect and purposeful is produced. As a metal worker pounds the metal, shaping it gradually by the continued pounding, then plunges it into water to cool it down a little - it is hardened to a new strength it did not possess before.

We may resist the pounding of the hammer of his Word - but when we are plunged into the refreshing coolness of his Word - we become stronger! We take on a new strength. That strength would not be possible without the strike of the hammer! The resilience of character produced by the striking of the Word over and over again is a direct result of the image Christ has of us in his mind - he is the sculptor and the blacksmith, forming that which will bring him enjoyment, glory, and purpose. Don't resist the strike of the hammer - the closeness of the Word. It is the hammer combined with the anvil that creates the most useful and enjoyable of creations! Just sayin!