Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Springfield Today, February 27, 2018

March 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Blog

Good Moanin’ Springfieldians,

Every so often I think about Joe, especially I if should happen to see an anvil.  You see, he was our next-door neighbor, when we lived in Marlette, Michigan, and I was pastoring my very first church in this small farming community.  Joe was a short little Mexican man, and I have no idea how old he was – but he was old, and he looked old, weathered and wrinkled.  He had retired from being the town’s blacksmith, long before we ever moved there.  It was farm country up there, and so there were horses that needed to be shoed, plows that needed to be straightened and sharpened, special order tools that needed to be made, and Joe was the man for the job.  But by the time I met him and knew him, he was retired and so he no longer stoked up the furnaces.

One of the things I found fascinating though, was that Joe’s blacksmith shop still stood kitty-corner from the house we lived in, and was exactly how he left it the day he retired.

With the passing of years the windows had become dirty, but you could still see in.  I know that because I had peeked in.  And through those dirty windows, you could see all the tools of the blacksmith, just as they were the day Joe walked out, never to open that door again.  His leather apron still hung on a nail on the wall.  The heavy sledgehammers used to shape the red-hot steel, the furnace, the cooling tubs, and the anvil, were all there.

It’s the anvil I’m interested in, because all of us (at one time or another) have been on God’s anvil.  You know what happens on the anvil don’t you?  The blacksmith puts his tongs into the fire, grabs a hold of the heated metal; and with his keen and experienced eye he examines the glowing piece.  He sees what it is now, and he envisions what he wants it to be: sharper, flatter, wider or longer.  And then with that clear picture in his mind he begins to pound.  On the solid anvil, which isn’t moved by the pounding, the smoldering iron is reshaped.

The smith knows the type of instrument he wants.  He knows the size.  He knows the shape.  He knows the strength.  And he knows exactly how his pounding will shape that metal.  And so time after time the hammer slams down.  The shop rings with noise.  The air fills with smoke.  And the softened metal responds.

But you understand, the finished product, the new tool, the repaired plow doesn’t come easily.  It doesn’t come without discomfort.  To melt down the old and recast as new is a disrupting process.  Yet the metal remains on the anvil, allowing the toolmaker to remove the scars, repair the cracks, refill the voids, and purge the impurities.   And with time, a transformation occurs.

What was dull becomes sharp.

What was useless becomes valuable.

What was thought to be junk becomes prized.

And then the blacksmith stops.  He ceases his pounding and he sets down his hammer and with his tongs he lifts it to eye level, and in still silence he examines the smoking tool.  And when it passes his inspection, he plunges it into the cool water and that which moments before was being pounded and was soft is now unbending and an effective, useful tool.

And I’m sure you understand by now, I’m not talking about Joe and his job any longer.  But I’m talking about us, you and me, being on God’s anvil.  I know some of you have been there.  Melted down, formless, undone, and pounded on.  Placed on the anvil for reshaping.

I know I’ve been on it.  It’s rough.  It’s a spiritual slump.  It’s spiritual apathy, but it’s more than a spiritual apathy.  It’s a famine.  The fire goes out.  Desire is distant.  Responsibilities are depressing.  It’s a whole lot easier to grumble and complain, than to praise.  You see all the bad and none of the good.  You’d rather criticize than encourage.  You’re being pounded by circumstances and you hate it.

And when that happens – you know what time it is?

It’s anvil time.

God’s anvil.

It can be caused by unwanted and unexpected circumstances, or by people you have no control over, or by poor choices we have made.  It’s going prayerless and praiseless.  It is that moment when you’re brought face to face with God out of the utter realization you have no where else to go.

I hope you’re not on the anvil – unless you need to be, and if so, I hope you are.  Anvil time is not to be avoided; it is to be experienced.  It reminds us of who we are and who God is.

You understand, God sees our life from beginning to end.  And He may lead us through a storm at age 30 so we can endure the hurricane at age 60.  A tool is only useful if it’s in its right shape.  A dull axe or a bent screwdriver needs attention and so do we.

A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape.  So does God.  Don’t resist God’s shaping you – He is doing it for your good.  He’s doing it so you’re ready for what is coming. He’s doing it because you will be filled with His joy and His contentment and His peace.

 

What You Need to Know…

  • I wasn’t here to enjoy the Cook-Off, but I understand Mindy Palmer won the coveted Wooden Spoon Award for the best chili.Congratulations!
  • There are still a few slots to fill on our 67 Hours of Prayer, which begins tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m. If you could help fill in those slots it would be awesome. Also we need some more to volunteer for security during that time, please call the office to fill the slots or volunteer.
  • Rumor Has It… Brad and Debi Adams will be here this weekend J
  • The Orpheus Choir from Olivet Nazarene University will be sharing music during the Worship Gathering on Sunday, March 18th.
  • Organic Outreach Intensive Training – A Deep Dive into Organic Outreach for your Church ~ March 21-22, 2018 Decatur First Church of the Nazarene ~ $150 Registration includes 2-day intensive training; 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 1 dinner; Resources for 3 full years, help in designing a customized outreach plan for your church; Opportunity to join a leader’s cohort for 2 years; 3 Organic Outreach books. Register at www.illinoisnaz.org as soon as possible. March 21st starts with registration at 7am and sessions starting at 8am and concluding with dinner at 5pm. Sessions begin again on March 22 at 8am and will conclude after the session at 2:15pm.

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