© Copyright and Trademark, Craig R.J.L. Shaw
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The Master Craftsman

In my second year of Bible College we were asked to write a parable. This was mine. Reading it now, the sword forging process is a little off, but it still powerfully speaks to my heart and reminds of God and His work in our lives.

I have chosen for my own parable the concept of metal casting and sword forging. While this is obviously not something most people do, I do believe it can be greatly linked to Christianity in many areas. Anyway, here it is:

Think of a man, a swordsmith in our modern age. He knows of modern ways and methods, but thinks little of them. Instead, he uses old methods, tedious methods, time consuming methods, methods without the help of machines, methods that require great effort and extreme care, methods that must be mastered to perfection if his craft is to be of any worth, methods that - because of all these things - will produce something far finer than what any machine process could. He starts with steel and iron, first heating them to such extremes as to remove all impurities. Then he proceeds to hammer out the metal, fold it together, and hammer it out again, doing this over and over to rid the metals of any remaining impurities and to strengthen it. Only to then again return to the furnace and begin again. He repeats this process until he is satisfied that the metal is perfect, regardless of how long it may take, for even the smallest impurity will weaken the blade (and even if that weakness is so small it makes no difference it must be removed for the crafter will know it is there and would never be able to let it remain for he would always remember it when looking at the blade) - no, the metal must be worked beyond being even flawless.

And, now that the metal is prepared, the crafter can begin on the work that will result in the blade. He carefully folds and refolds the metal, each layer increasing the strength that the blade will have, making each fold as close and compacted to the last as possible. After thousands upon thousands of layers have been made and set the crafter heats the un-worked blade just hot enough so that it becomes soft enough to hammer without causing it to stress. Slowly he works, sweating as he shapes the blade until it is ready. Now he takes clay and applies it to the blade, starting with a thin layer on the blade edge and working to a thicker layer on the back of the blade before heating up the blade one final time before quenching it. This clay causes the blade to cool at different speeds. The blade edge where the clay is thin cools instantly, creating a hard edge that can be sharpened while the other areas of the blade cool much slower, resulting in the metal being softer and more durable, thus allowing the blade to suffer even the greatest impacts that would shatter any other normal blade.

Now that the blade has been cast, it is carefully sharpened, set in a hilt and a scabbard made. The result is a blade of such fine quality that to test it, the crafter throws a silken cloth into the air and slowly arcs the blade through it as it falls and lands in two severed pieces. The craftsman smiles. His months of effort and tedious methods have proven worth it. Filled with joy he turns to the furnace to begin again...

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