We crowded against the window mesmerized by the action on the floor below us. The intense heat rose up and up. It ooozed through the glass, making it impossible for the AC to keep up, and threatened to stifle us. I took my hard hat off and tried to create a bit of air movement for me. But I still couldn’t tear myself away.
We were touring the Caterpillar Foundery in Mapleton, IL. Our enthusiastic guide explained thoroughly the entire process of creating engine blocks, etc (thanks to him for the pics of this tour) So here it goes to the best of my memory/understanding (both of which can be pretty limited 🤔)
We watched each step carefully: Recycled metal is dumped into a giant furnace and heated to a red hot lava (it’s much more scientific than that 😏). The giant oven opens and pours out the red hot lava into a container.
Slowly- a giant hook lowers from the crane above and lifts the container carrying tons of liquid metal into the sky and moves purposely towards the next stop- the bright red/ heat reflects on the operators face as he moves along the ceiling of the building. The next oven opens and the liquid is poured in. From there the temp is maintained in these “waiting ovens” as the large batch is divided into smaller batches (four blocks/pour)
Just like clockwork- a smaller batch is poured into a smaller container. It moves on a track to where workers check the temp (2645°F) the slag is drawn off and then- another crane operator carries it over and meticulously pours the next 4 molds. These new molds/blocks move to the next stage, and the process repeats.
As I referenced- it was uncomfortably warm, but still I stayed. My mind raced- I thought about the familiar Bible story where the King demanded his subjects worship him instead of God. When Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refused, the King heated the furnace so hot that it killed the people standing around outside. He threw the men inside and was shocked by the fact that there were suddenly 4 men in the fire, walking around. Long story short- an angel joined the men and protected them so that they didn’t even have a hair singed.
As the fire continued- I kept thinking about the verse that’s talking about eternal punishment “where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” and it hurt my heart to think of someone deliberately making choices against God that would lead to suffering in hell forever and ever and ever.
And then I thought of another facet of fire: difficult experiences. It’s incredible how the metals are all thrown into the fire and purged- the junk slag is lifted off and in the end- they come out beautifully. But that’s not the end. After the refining process, and the proper degassing time, the newly formed piece of metal again enters the oven to be retempered- making sure that it’s ready for work. The return to the heat removes any weaknesses and eliminates future issues.
I don’t know what fire your story includes. I don’t know if you’re in the initial refining fire, or if you’re in the recurring heat treatment. But I’m currently studying the life of Joseph and I’m so challenged with his response during his conversation with his brothers as he reflected on the unfair events of his life (being sold as a teenager, being imprisoned, but finally being promoted to grain manager during a terrible drought in Eygpt) “God did send me” (Gen 45.) Life includes tough times. But if God is in control- the end results can be a blessing.
May God give you a glimpse of the ministry the furnace times are preparing you for.
A few more pics from our travels last week.
Lake Superior where the water is cold, but the view is beautiful.
Enjoyed visiting a Hutterite Colony in Minnesota. These people were very gracious with allowing us a glimpse into their lives. I brought home a recipe in case you were wishing to bake cookies for a crowd:
We found some of my mom’s family scattered here and there.
As always so thankful for protection along the way on each adventure. Glad to explore, but so glad to be home 💞