My first few weeks here in Tyler have been interesting to say the least. The night I moved in, just after meeting the 28 other people I would be doing life with for the next year, I was told to prepare for the unexpected. What? I don’t even get time to settle in? I had been told that The Forge was full of unexpected surprises, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to be thrown into the fire this quick! (wink, wink) Surprises like that one have been the main theme of the short 2 weeks I’ve spent here so far, and it’s already causing me to be pushed out of my comfort zone and forcing me to grow. 

I’m not normally a very self-driven person, especially when I have no plan to go off of. I consider myself a very “go with the flow” type of guy, so I’m typically more productive when I have an agenda set that I can strive to follow. Well, apparently that’s not how this program rolls. Daily I wake up wondering “what are we even doing today?”, and nightly I go to bed thinking “what just happened? I’m so tired.” If I was left to my own strength in order to continue I would have legitimately died by now. (That’s probably an exaggeration but you get the point) But the Lord was gracious from the very start of The Forge to put an analogy in my head that has been spurring me on, day in and day out. 

A few mornings into the program, I found myself standing in a field, early in the morning, surrounded by a group of mostly strangers. We were all a little tired, and a lot confused about what was about to happen. Matt Lantz, our Forge director, welcomed us all to the day, and then took us on a small hike till we came upon a lake. This is where our first test happened. Matt asked us about a specific verse in the bible, and expected us to tell him what it meant. Well, long story short we got it wrong, and Matt slayed us with reality. We didn’t know as much about scripture as we originally thought. So Matt brought us up from the lake to a different spot of the camp. This spot is where God (and Matt) presented the perspective changing analogy that has been the driving force behind my daily endeavors. I actually can’t reveal what we saw (because I think the Forge is actually a black ops organization), but this is the place where I figured out what I was doing in The Forge. I saw that I am here to be molded into the person God has designed me to be, for the specific purposes He has planned from the beginning of time. The Forge is my anvil, and God is my blacksmith.

It’s beginning to seem like this program I’m in is named what it is for a reason. Who knows who I’ll be in 8 months? Who knows what will be revealed about my purpose. I guess I’ll just have to continue trusting that the Blacksmith is a master in the process.

By Austin Foster, Class of 2017