While watching the trials and tribulations that currently confront our country, I am reminded of my own struggles, and I have concluded that we as a species are defined and shaped by one’s adversities and not by easily obtained random fortunes. Just think of what’s important to you. Of what are you most proud? I bet it’s something that you had to work for, something that in some manner had a cost to it. We do not hold in like regard things given as we do thing that were earned.
The book of Isaiah examines how we are molded from clay. However, clay is gently massaged and constantly watered down until it is given shape, and while I know that many have had far greater struggles in their life than I’ve endured, I don’t always feel like that life is gently molding me. I sometimes feel like I’m on the receiving end of hammer blows, so I would suggest a different analogy, one that was first inspired by the motto of my old unit, the 3rd Armored Cavalry, “You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel!”
Clay once formed retains that shape and cannot be reformed, while using another biblical reference, beating your swords into plowshares shows that steel can be recast into what is necessary at the time. There is strength in steel which clay lacks.
The forming of steel is mentioned in numerous biblical references and symbology. Steel, like clay, first has to be brought forth from the earth; it is then heated – tested in fires if you will – until it receives its first transformation. The steel then is molded and cooled, but unlike clay it must be transformed or tested yet again. The metal is again stressed by exposure to fire and heat. It is then is repeatedly beaten into a rough shape, not gently as in clay, but hammered by blows delivered at strength. With each blow, the small sparks we see are impurities being driven out of the steel. They are not wiped away but driven out. At this point, the steel is brittle. It will remain so until it is quenched by complete immersion in water. Now you have a piece of steel that is strong and resistant to the work for which it has now been made.
Steel, not clay, is used for the tough jobs, including swords, plowshares and shields. In order to fulfill its created purpose, steel must be wielded by the hand of another. It is in the hand that the implement is placed that determines the nature of the work performed for ill or gain.
I don’t feel as though this analogy solely applies to me but also to a nation. D.H. Lawrence described “the essential American soul as hard, Isolate, Stoic and a killer. It has never yet melted.” Our nation wasn’t molded, it was forged. Forged by those with the temperament of steel. Steel which has been sharpened and reshaped time and time again through our nation’s history. So let us not be disheartened when life delivers a blow but encouraged knowing that this hardening prepares us for the tasks that lay ahead. As Proverbs states, it takes steel to sharpen steel. May we all strive to become men of steel instead of clay.
By Cade Logue
Cade Logue is a military veteran, a proud Texan, a patriotic American, and a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative.