Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Swordmaker (Part Three)

"I enjoy every part of the process" said a focused Kobayashi Sensei. My mind was fuzzy after stuffing my face with so much sushi, takenoko, cakes, and fruit, but I was determined to pepper him with questions about the amazing art of sword making. So I asked him what step in the twenty step process he enjoyed the most and he gave me the above answer.

He went on to say, "If you don't enjoy all the steps you cannot produce a top quality samurai sword." I sat there in the haze between wanting to take a nice siesta and wanting to listen to Sensei Kobayashi. I was fighting to stay awake because the man was releasing some awesome wisdom and I needed to hear this. Then like a fresh gust of wind, my mind started to clear up. The two o'clock sleepy period passed on and my mind started to kick into gear and pen started to write. "Thank you God for digestion and adrenaline."

As he talked, I could not help but see the clear parallels between what Sensei Kobayashi does with a rough slag of iron ore (tama-hagane) with what God does with the rough slag of our character. They are one and the same.

The sword making process begins with making a tatara (clay furnace) and collecting sandy iron ore from the mountains. Charcoal is also produced from the hard wood trees found in the same vicinity. I thought, "These guys are intense. They make their own charcoal? Wow!" The iron sand is then shoveled into the furnace until a block of rough iron forms on the bottom. They call this rough, impure piece of metal tama hagane. It actually looks like black, hardened lava from the Big Island, but much heavier. This is what they work with to produce a sword of amazing beauty, symmetry , and strength--the best in the world.

They then heat the furnace to about 750 degrees centigrade to burn out impurities and to produce the right carbon to steel ratio. Too little carbon and the metal will be soft, too much and the metal becomes brittle. They use no thermometer, only their eyes and experience to find the right level of heat.

They then fold the heated metal fourteen times which then produces 16,000 layers. How does this happen? I do not know. They heat, fold, hammer, reheat, fold, hammer, reheat until all the impurities are removed. It's an intense process that requires great stamina, strength, patience, and extreme precision from the sword maker. I was in awe.

When he told me he enjoyed every step, even the heating of the furnace, I immediately connected it to God's attitude towards us. He enjoys shaping our character, not in a sadistic way, but with the joy of a sword maker who can see the finished product. God beats and folds in order to produce a sword of pristine beauty. That's what we are to him. He enjoys all the steps in our character development because he loves what it produces in us; he loves looking at a shiny sword. 1 Corinthians 13 states that love (God) bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things. He never gives up on us. He who began a good work in us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).

We might as well have the same attitude as God and consider it all joy when we go through the furnace of trial and tribulation (James 1:2-4). God wants to beat out fear, shame, anger, lust, impatience, and all other character impurities so that we become a signature of his exquisite workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). He wants to change us from rough tama-hagane into a polished katana.

As I sat in the sword museum in Izumo with the rest of the hobbits and Sensei Kobayashi, I gave up a silent prayer of thanksgiving to our great God in heaven. I thanked him for allowing me to come to Japan, my birthplace, to hear these words of wisdom at this juncture in my life. I thanked him for Dean and the rest of the awesome team of servant leaders (everyone) at Unified... and LMI. I thanked him for all our wonderful Christian friends in Japan. I thanked him for enjoying every step of my sword making process. The heat and pounding feels good now. I can see his purposes. We can all rest in his goodness.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior
He will exult over you with joy
He will be quiet in his love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
(Zephaniah 3:17)


Kealoha777 said...

Wow! What a beautiful message and what it means to me to have you write it down. Right now I am enjoying teaching university students so much that while I was in the elevator, my student said why are you so happy and have no care or worry in the world. I wanted to explain about The Lord's Joy, but the time will be His timing for those called to serve Him.The elevator door opened and students were rushing out.
By the way two nights ago I went to Tetsuro's house and we saw and held The Sword in its lacker light red casing and I noticed the wind pass through the drawn curtains strongly so I looked around as I held the sword in thoughts "What was that?" I recall it happening one or two times before this surge of a stronger breeze. Later I asked Tetsuro about their window and he said it was unusual to be that strong. Iizumi had the same feeling as I, of something special. Also, as I was video taping Iizumi as she held the sword, there was a purple white light less than a second appeared, I said Wow, then Tetsuro look at the camera but it was gone. However, again the purple lined white light appeared and it came to the sword and out, this time Tetsuro saw it because I said "Look Look" = I made a DVD of it and will give it to Paul to take back. I don't quite know how to explain it.

Blessings in Jesus,


P.S. - The Sword was sent yesterday to be boxed and should be in Honolulu in Kerry's hands in about 1 week. I slept so beautifully next to The Lord's Sword in Tetsuro's car on the way to the delivery place, while Iizumi was driving. Hope The Lord didn't mind
and it was not like the Garden of Gethsemane because I was soaking in this New Covenant
of signs and wonders.

Kealoha777 said...

Ron Netsu forgot to write His Pen Name = Gandof = Is that the right spelling?

Tetsuro said...

Great message!! I was able to read how the sword maker and the Great Maker work on our lives. "God wants to beat out fear, shame, anger, lust, impatience, and all other character impurities so that we become a signature of his exquisite workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)." Amen Amen Amen! Our God is good 100% all the time.

Steve said...