Brad visits the Blacksmith

I’ve always been fascinated by blacksmiths.  Sure, my first visits were when my dad dragged us in, asking what seemed like hundreds of questions before we were done.  But then something happened – I became the one asking questions.  My family knows this, and I think they were a bit concerned about the rest of our day when I was lured in by the sound of iron being pounded into shape.  I dig it all – the stoking of the fire, the smell, the way the temperature of the fire is controlled, the hot iron being made into what the blacksmith knows is needed.

After many visits to blacksmiths, I thought I had heard most of the lessons and techniques they share.  But today there was something new.  As the apprentice dipped the iron into the fire, I noticed it was the handle side, not the glowing red part that was cooled.  It was explained that the iron rod was getting shorter, so the handle was getting hotter to hold.

Was it tossed away after a few more hits?  No, the expert had a better plan.  The two ends of shorter iron pieces were heated at the same time, and then the blacksmith did something that intrigued me.  The heated ends were laid on top of each other, the hammer came down, and the two pieces melded together to become one.  Just like that, what had been two became one inseparable piece.

And all I could think of was marriage.  What I witnessed was a beautiful example of what marriage is made to be.  From the beginning of creation, the master plan for marriage has been that a man will be “united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).  This is God’s plan.  He created me, and He knows best.

So, the two become one, just like those two pieces of iron became one.  We were never meant to become “one” before marriage, and we aren’t made to be separated after we become “one” in marriage.  That new piece of iron immediately went back into the fire, and that can happen to marriages, too.  But, it still remained one solid piece of iron as the master worked his plan.

My family got me out of the blacksmith’s shop (eventually), but I am grateful I saw such a wonderful picture of marriage as I stood beside Sara…my “one”.


Where everybody knows your name

I’m always fascinated by the things in my life that trigger the feeling of “home”.  This isn’t about four walls and a roof, but more the sense of familiarity.  The old song said, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”  There are places where maybe only a couple of people know you, or maybe no one but your family, but because of the memories, it at least seems like someone may come up, put a hand on your shoulder, and say, “Good to have you back!”.

My family is visiting one of those places this week.  I have a lot of wonderful, cherished memories here.  My mom and dad brought us here when we were little.  My wife and I came here as part of our honeymoon.  We brought our kids here a few years ago.  And now, we’re back to create new memories.  But everywhere we step, each place we walk into, the air is flooded with that familiar feeling of being, in a sense, home.

There are lots of things that can trigger those moments – a memory-filled place, a pleasing smell, the look in your child’s eye, or simply the people you love more than your heart could ever express through clumsy words.  It can be something small or something big, but whatever it is, these emotions often seem to take me by surprise.

I’ve left a piece of my heart in many places over the years, where the marks of special memories have been left, and I think that’s why no place feels completely like home.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my family more than I feel my heart can hold, and that love truly seems to grow every day.  And yes, I have these “temporary homes” where fragrant memories fill the air.  At the same time, they all feel just that – temporary.

Growing up, my parents would listen to several singers who I didn’t necessarily appreciate at the time.  I was listening to guys who had massive amounts of hair spray in their perfectly coiffed do’s, jamming away on electric guitars and long drum solos.  My folks were listening to what was basically an older crowd singing Southern Gospel.  But it wasn’t just your typical Southern Gospel, and that’s what got my attention.  It wasn’t my style, but the more I not only heard but saw these people over the years, the more I was drawn in.

This gray-haired crew were radiant as they sang about Home.  They would lift their eyes and voices and sing about the Home they would soon see – Heaven – and they couldn’t wait!  They knew that all of those familiar places and wonderful memories they had experienced were nothing when compared to the Home that God promises those who love Him.

I don’t consider myself old (although my body sometimes begs to differ), and I only have a few gray hairs, but I still find myself excited about that same Home.  I have some amazing memories in my life, and prayerfully many years left to be filled with more.  However, I’m so stoked that when all is said and done, because of what Jesus did for me, I can experience Home like never before in a place my heart can barely imagine.  And that when I eventually walk those streets of gold, it will be a home where everybody knows my name.

Now, back to building more memories…