Jesus typically used parables about things familiar to his listeners: planting, fishing, or sheep. I've sometimes wondered why He told no parables of wood, since His earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter, and Jesus may have been taught the skills of that trade. I believe it was because carpentry was less familiar to his audience and might be less instructive to them.
For me, however, the Lord has had much to say through wood. I described much of it in my previous blog. Today, I would like to share more things He has revealed to me over the years, and especially in recent weeks, as I've toiled in the woods and by the woodpile.
A year or so ago, I came across a box of wood samples at a yard sale. It contained 18 varieties of wood, each with its distinctive character, grain, and attributes. Wood can be selected for fine furniture, construction, flooring, fuel, or pulp, according to its suitability.
At the woodpile, I am constantly confronted with the marked differences among the wood I split and stack. There are red oak, white oak, hickory, dogwood, sourwood, cedar, pine, blackgum, wild cherry, poplar, and numerous others. I mainly think in terms of what kind of heat the wood provides. In the pile below, the woods seem indistinguishable at a glance. But a closer examination reveals the unique quality of each.
Of the nearly 8 billion people inhabiting earth, it's easy to say we're all basically the same. Even when we try to discuss subgroups, we tend to generalize (i.e., Australians, eskimos, Europeans). No matter how much alike we may appear on the outside, God looks on the heart and knows us as the individuals we are.
When I split a piece of wood right down the middle, it often displays a perfect symmetry.
When God created us, He had in mind a perfect symmetry as well, that our life would reflect Christ, our Savior.
This wood is caught up in itself, unwilling to let go. It can still be used for firewood, but for higher purposes it is unfit-- unprofitable, as the Bible would say. That is disappointing in a log of firewood, tragic in the life of a man.
Know that it's not that God can't break our stubborn hearts. He will not force His love on us, but desires us to desire Him. But just as I proceeded to split those stubborn oaks with a few swings of my ax-maul (which didn't have a shut-off switch), one day we will all appear before God, and every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2: 10-11).
That seed represents the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. That crop speaks of a vast sea of humanity in need of a Savior. We are so precious to Him. Like the wood, we each have our distinctive character, "grain," and attributes. But the yielding to God's will is the crucial part. As Jesus repeatedly importuned, He who has ears, let him hear.
As my dear pastor is fond of saying, when we bow before God's throne in heaven, wouldn't we wish to say:
"In my hand no price I bring, simply to the cross I cling."