A Wood In Progress

When wood is raw and freshly cut, it is still rough and splinter-prone. If you rub your hand across it, you may pull away filled with a little pain from a piece of wood merging with your tender fingers. It is hard to grasp and difficult to display, but it can be used for very practical things, such as saw horses, firewood and boarding up holes or drafty windows.

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To be a bit more useful, a woodsman will begin to sand that raw wood. (Sanding, Planing and Scraping are all methods of smoothing wood. Each depends on the type of wood and the desired results from the smoothing. For simplicity, I will only refer to sanding.) The first sandpaper applied is very coarse, and it will shave away much of the roughness and splinted wood.  As the plank become smoother, more refined pieces of sandpaper are used to cause more and more fine-tuned sanding. Once, the piece is smoothed to the creator’s liking, he or she will run his hands over the fine, smooth piece of wood.

In the final stages of refining, the carpenter might even smooth the wood with cloths or apply a varnish, fiberglass or stain to finish the handiwork. He may create shelves, cabinets, tables, chairs, or even doors and window frames. In the end, a beautiful work of art is presented for daily use or display.

This is how our Heavenly Father prepares us as well. When we are first saved, our approach to Christianity, life and even each other can be so rough that, if we aren’t careful, we might leave “splinters” in the lives of those around us. God has to smooth out those rough places. He has to apply pressure, allow challenges and even trials to come to “sand away” those splintery spots. In the end, He creates a beautiful work of art within our lives that might be used by His might hand to bring impact into the lives of someone else.Sometimes, the method might seem strenuous, tedious and even unrelenting, but just trust, He will finish what He has started. Never give up through the process, and when He is finished, know you will never be the same. It will be worth it!

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Shimmers Like Gold

       

The lake shimmers like gold.

 

I drove across the lake today. As I looked at the water it seemed to be shimmering, as if it was a pile of diamonds glowing in the sun. It was simply beautiful. 

This moment reminded me that there’s beauty all around us, all the time. We just have to open our eyes and see it. We can get so busy in our everyday drives, in our daily routines, and in our weekly habits that we miss the beauty that God placed right in our midst. Do you ever just stop to actually smell the roses? Do you ever just pause at night and look up at the stars? 

God placed us here amongst His creation to enjoy it and to praise Him for it. Yet too often these days, I think, we are too busy to even see it clearly. Sure we might pause for half a millisecond to watch a bird on a branch, to hear it chirp it’s little song, but then, we have appointments to make, things to do, people to see, and then we leave, missing out on its beautiful praise. 

We must stop. We must get away. We must get alone until we’re not alone anymore. We must seek our Maker, and then, we’ll be able to see and hear what He has for us. His plans, His creation, His ways are so much clearer when we step out from among the chaos of our lives and step into His presence. I think I’d like to see Him today in the shimmering gold on the lake. I’d like to hear Him in the rustling of the leaves. Would you like to join me?

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.  Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord…”   Psalm 96:11-13a

Something Out of Nothing

Is it possible that something that doesn’t look like anything–can still amount to something? …I’ve known a face in a mirror much like that…Could it be –no one receives the peace of God without giving thanks to God? –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

God is a master of this. Creating something out of nothing… The “week” of creation taught us that. There was nothing; He spoke, and there was light…the earth was void and without form; He spoke, and there was earth and sky. There were no humans; He formed them, and man was made from the dust of the earth and woman from man’s rib. He is the master of creating something from nothing. 

So, why is it when it comes to ourselves, our lives, our dreams that we allow doubt and discouragement to creep in and hinder us from being whom we’ve dreamt to be? Why do we allow the circumstances in which we find ourselves to convince us of a different path than the one He set before us? If He said it, we should believe it. If He directed it, we should have confidence for it. 

I think too often we put too much faith in ourselves, and because we falter, we believe the promise wasn’t for us. Too often, we look to our own strength, our own abilities rather than His strength and His abilities. No wonder we get so weak! We can do nothing without Him. Oh, but when we put our hope and trust in Him, the sky is our limit!! 

Let Him in today. Let Him have control of your life. Let Him invest in your hopes and dreams. Just test Him, and see what He can do. He creates beauty out of ashes. He designs masterpieces out of nothing. That’s His specialty, and He loves you! He is God. Why would we expect anything less from Him?