When preparing for our Forged teaching series, Nick and I spent about 30 minutes filming Byron (a member of Wheatland) working at his forge. We used the footage to help build our teaching intro that plays just before the message each Sunday.
After watching Byron heat up iron rods to white hot and then pound them out on an anvil he insisted that we try it ourselves. I immediately set down my camera. "How cool is this?" I thought.
I plunged the iron rod into the flame until it was ready to be pounded. I grabbed a hammer and put the metal down on the anvil. I raised up the hammer and brought it crashing down onto the iron only it didn't really go as planned. The hammer glanced off the side of the iron, nicked the anvil, and finished up slamming hard onto the table below. The handle of the hammer stung my hand like hitting a ball with a bat that you didn't grip hard enough.
I was a little confused. I figured that the metal would be soft and easily pounded out. I thought it would feel more like hitting dough and less like hitting a...well, piece of metal. So the next swing I concentrated more, gripped the hammer harder, and swung with a little more gusto. After ten swings, I decided I was done. I handed the equipment back over the Byron and concluded that he must be hitting the iron much harder than me because I could barely make a dent in it.
Here's what I take away from that experience. Whenever we've said anything about being formed by God into the likeness of Christ (i.e. the main metaphor of Forged) I'm reminded of how hard that work really is. It's not like rolling out dough. It's more like roll-up-your-sleeves-and-give-it everything-you've-got kind of work. In our metaphor, we are not the blacksmith. God is the one forming and shaping. We are the hard metal that doesn't so easily bend and shape to his design.
So in the times that you don't feel like God is changing you, or when you don't see yourself as an effective copy of Christ's love and character, remember that you are not so easily shaped and there is no fast and easy short-cut to the forging process. The Christian life should be marked and blessed by seasons of difficulty and perseverance. So says James:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. " -James 1:2-4