Friday, March 25, 2011

DEVOTION: Word-Smiths - Ray Hawkins

“You are word-smiths”, the speaker said.
The preachers all nodded with an intelligent bobbing of the head. It sounded so easy. How wrong the words of the speaker were.
Being a ‘word-smith’ is the mental equivalent to being a blacksmith. He (are there any women blacksmiths?) takes a piece of steel or iron and applies it to the furnace. Then come the hammer blows. There is a purpose to it all, unknown to the metal.
Writers must be fashioned in life’s furnace before they can fashion great stories. Each furnace will be different and yet in many ways similar for individuals. The big difference between the metal and the writer is the feeling of pain. Life’s experiences rain many blows upon our lives and such force endeavours to either break or mould us. What is the purpose? To test whether or not the metal is up to handling the pattern! Regardless of our degree of faith, hope and love the fire singes and the blows hurt but they give the spirit of the writer its quality assurance.
We are told to write what we know. Maybe such a statement needs to be changed to ‘write what you have felt through the furnace and the hammer blows.’ It is the furnace of experience we have been through which embeds our words with grace and conviction. From the hammer blows of life’s unfairness our words can be infused with sympathy and strength.
Paul calls Christians ‘Ambassadors for Christ.’ I wonder if he wrote today, might he adapt it slightly for writers? Would he call us ‘Computer or Pen Word-smiths for Christ’?  That doesn’t make the writing any easier, the furnace any cooler or the blows softer. It does however assert a certain dignity and responsibility to the suffering and the calling.
When I first started writing years ago it was cool, calm, calculated. It was truth without passion; theory without reality’s hammer marks; desire without fire. The following years have changed all that. The furnace and the hammer have shaped the heart and mind with passion and longing, conviction and intention, testimony and integrity. Now when I write, the heart comes through the fingers. Sure the finished manuscript must endure its own furnace and hammer blows, plus the refining touch of the razor, the eraser and polisher but the content has vibrancy.
I would like to apply 2 Timothy 1:12b (King James Version) to our calling as word-smiths. I trust you will sense Paul’s faith, passion and hope bursting though. This was written approximately 30 years after the Damascus Road experience. I’ve highlighted the words which speak of his journey through the furnace and the hammer blows. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” 
May what we leave on paper for our readers give them similar vibrations.

Raymond N Hawkins (Tasmania) is a retired Churches of Christ (Australia) minister. He is married to Mary, a multi-published author. They are parents to three children and ‘spoilers’ of 5 grandchildren. Ray still preaches at a newly formed Baptist Church and as other opportunities arise. He helps at their son and daughter-in-law’s sea horse and fresh-water fish farm. He and Mary have experienced three short-term mission trips to African countries as well as ministered in the U.K.


  1. Thank you, Ray. I love your idea that we should ‘write what [we] have felt through the furnace and the hammer blows.’.

  2. Thank you for this allegory, Ray. It's true. I've found the more open I am in my writing, the more it reaches people. As I share the hammer blows and the heat of the furnace with others, so they can identify with my words. "I've been there too."

  3. Thank you Ray. Your words have been an encouragement and an affirmation to me today.

  4. Well said, Ray. Thank you for your perspective. It's only been through the fire and the anvil that I've had anything at all to say worth saying. All the rest was intellect - which is only marginally valuable without concomitant wisdom.

  5. Thanks for sharing that devotion, only the fiery furnace can turn us into something golden. Thanks for sharing:)

  6. In fiction we often make our characters experience similar situations, and feel the pain we do. That's the only way folk will relate to our writing, and hopefully, this will draw them closer to the the Lord. He knows exactly what we need to shape our characters

  7. To my compatriots with life's bruises and burns how good is the healing process when shared, especially through the lives of those we have created. When knowing comes from experience, personal or witnessed to grip the heart and emotions passion and power seem to flow into the written words.
    Thanks for yur words indicating that across time and space we can share a common theme.