Friday, August 13, 2010

Raising the Bar

I recently was explaining my job as a mechanical engineer. MechE is pretty general so I was focusing on the details of the core strength of my company - bar turners.

Red-hot steel bars come out of the furnace and get squeezed through rolling round dies or get hammered by a forge as the bar is rotated. This works for a general usable shape but the bar is ugly; a rough shape with scale and lumps and is grey or black.

I design & build machines that spin a cutterhead with tools. The bar is held tight and shoved through the spinning cutterhead to become a round, precise and well finished barstock for use in shafts, hydraulic cylinders, etc.

The cutting process is not simple. Power is required to spin the cutterhead, and more power to force the bar through. It doesn't want to go. Cutting fluid washes over the whole process to cut metal off without burning up the tools or bar. There tends to be a loud noise resembling screaming and a smoke cloud emanates from the protective covers. Steadily a bar moves out the exit end and looks nothing like the bar that entered the cutting area.

I've recently come to see this as a good metaphor for the concept of the new man (Eph 4:22-24). The old self getting removed (not an easy step, not a painless step) and carried away. Washed. And a clean, usable, new self ready for use on the other side. A transformation.

This results in a stark contrast of the raw bars on the entry table with the exit table full of mirror finish processed bars. The transformation is painful; but the life is most abundant after the process, bar none.

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