Why I Vandalized the Horse Barn
My family had a four-stall horse barn, and a friend and I decided to build a fort in the rafters. We collected plywood planks from every willing neighborhood donor. I borrowed my dad’s hammer and nails, and we built our grandiose hideout within a few hours. I pilfered some leftover carpet scraps, and voilà—we had a carpeted hideout.
Only, one problem. The copious amount of dust. Confession: a few years prior, I thought I’d “help” my dad by hammering all the knots out of the wood plank walls. In my child perspective, those knots were funny-looking and ugly.
My innocent vandalism provided our horses with natural air-conditioning in the summer and a frigid breeze in the winter. The combination of the horses kicking up dirt and the fresh breeze swirling that dust around the barn rendered our new hideout unbreathable. Had I only understood the value of those ugly imperfections.
Research turned up an interesting fact about these funny looking defects:
“Dead branches drop off of healthy, living trees all the time, and wood knots appear in the trunk where branches died. Knots are imperfections that cause living wood grain to grow around them. These imperfections are just part of what makes wood a beautiful material with which to work, but can also contribute to possible defects in structural strength for construction lumber.” – Ron Smith of Wagner Meters [emphasis mine].
I read the above description and, immediately, the biblical symbol of trees representing people took on new life.
“They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do,” Psalm 1:3a NLT.
How many human trees have dead branches that God needs to lop off?
Imperfections Cause Growth
Do I question God’s ability to work His masterpiece in a way that enables me to do the good works He planned for me long ago? He knew all along how I’d turn out. So could I not fairly complain, “Why on earth did you make me this way?”
“…notice how the grain pattern slopes up to 90 degrees to get around wood knots. Remarkable. This is why many consumers enjoy having decorative wood with knots,” – Ron Smith.
If natural wood with knots is this remarkable, how much more remarkable are you and I, given that we begin life made in God’s image and then are re-created and transformed by His Spirit? At the same time, our imperfections prevent us from pridefully boasting about our good works. Instead, our “knots” make it so that any display of power must be seen as God’s, not ours.
This beautiful image of knotted wood deepens my understanding of how His power works best in my imperfection. His grace is always sufficient in all situations, but especially when a personal weakness has the potential to defeat me.
Do your imperfections embarrass you—former lifestyle, insecurities, bad choices, etc? Kingdom people value authenticity. Knots keep us authentic.
“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves,” Genesis 3:7 NLT
To face your shame takes a brave step, an option Adam and Eve ran from, and instead used fig leaves to hide their “knots.” But if you surrender what shames you into the hands of the Master Pruner, He can and will refashion them into your most attractive feature.
Do you view your imperfections as knots to be hammered out? As features you have to hide from others?
Wearing authenticity is more attractive than sporting fig leaves. Ask for Heaven’s perspective, and see how God will refashion the unique “grain” of your wood until it beautifully waves around that very imperfection as He refines and perfects you.
Trust in God’s Provision
From: ligonier. org.
“Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not” (v. 4).
The duty of every believer in every age is to trust God and to obey His commandments. This was true in Israel and it is true in the church today. As children under His care, we must walk by faith, trusting that He will provide what we need for our daily sustenance, both physically and spiritually. And as subjects in His kingdom, we must obey His Law, for this is His command, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). This is the sum of the law, to love the Lord by obeying His commands. As New Testament believers, we are not freed from the law as the standard and rule of our lives, but we are bound to it in love. Jesus Himself emphatically stated: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” This is our duty and our privilege.
This was also what God expected from His people in the wilderness. He tested them to see if they would obey Him, and He did this in a basic level. They had to trust Him from day to day for the very provisions that would sustain their physical health. He promised that every evening He would send quail for meat, and every morning He would send manna, bread from heaven. They could not save the food from one day to the next, for it would rot. Instead, they had to trust that God would provide each day.
This would be a hard lesson for Israel because when they first found themselves without food, they said they would rather die in Egypt with full bellies than live under the guidance of Providence in the wilderness. They even welcomed the same judgments that had befallen Egypt rather than go without food! How they needed to learn to put their faith in God and not in their stomachs! How they needed to learn that it is more important to seek first the righteousness of God than to worry about the needs of the body! Let us consider carefully the words of our Lord Jesus: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things” (Matt. 6:31–34).
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything…” 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)
It seems you can hardly turn anywhere today without seeing reminders of economic hardships. During the past couple of years the unemployment rate in our country has been the highest we’ve seen in 60 years. Friends and family members are suffering due to the loss of jobs, investments gone bad, and cutbacks that seem to be everywhere.
I have a friend who has owned a thriving car dealership for over 30 years. This man and his family have been pillars in their community who are known for their generosity and kind Christian spirits.
This past year though, he declared bankruptcy and literally lost everything–including their cars.
If that isn’t cruel irony, I don’t know what is.
So, I’ve had to have some discussions with God about the absolute heartbreak of this situation. I know God is the great provider, so why isn’t He providing for my friend? God is a miracle worker, so why isn’t He working a miracle for my friend?
These are fair questions about what seems like a terribly unfair situation.
Whenever I face situations I am having a hard time understanding, I have to park my mind with what I know to be true. Keeping my mind saturated with truth, keeps Satan from being able to whisper dangerous assumptions, false accusations, and faith-eroding perspectives.
So, what is true in this situation? What is true no matter what situation we are facing?
God is a good provider.
This is true. This is where I must park my mind. This is the reality that must saturate my thoughts. This truth rises above our troubling circumstances and calls us to see life from a perspective outside our screaming realities.
God richly provides us with everything we need. Therefore I must trust that God is providing for my friend. What is in front of my friend is God’s provision. God hasn’t stopped providing just because my friend is in financial turmoil. This situation hasn’t caught God off guard. God hasn’t run out of resources to help my friend.
Part of God’s perfect provision for my friend is to walk through this. I may not like it. I may not understand it. But, because my friend knows and loves God, I have peace that he will make it through this.
The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 that if we think on what is true, the peace of God will be with us. And ultimately, isn’t peace what we want? That’s what I really want for my friend. I want this precious man and his family to have peace more than I want their dealership to be saved, their finances restored, and their old life to suddenly come back and settle into place.
Praise God, His peace is but an utterance of truth away. So, sweet sister, park your mind with His truth today. And watch God’s perfect provision of peace flood whatever dry and lacking ache you are experiencing right now.
The ravens were God’s catering service, delivering provisions to His prophet. “The ravens will bring in your food, Elijah.” Isn’t that incredible? God makes provision for Elijah’s physical welfare during this time of seclusion. But He also provides for his spiritual welfare. God knew what Elijah needed; therefore, the silence and solitude were to be essential parts of his boot camp experience.
In essence, God said to Elijah, “You need to get out of the spotlight. You need to come up in the mountains, alone with Me, where you can hear my voice clearly. We need more time together, Elijah, and you need more training.”
The good news is this: without one moment’s hesitation, Elijah obeyed. He didn’t even ask why.
So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. (1 Kings 17:5)
Notice the wording here. He went and lived by the brook Cherith. It’s one thing to take a day trip off the beaten track, to go camping for a weekend, or even to spend two or three weeks backpacking in the wilderness. Such adventures offer all the delights of being away from the cares of the real world for a time, even as you have the comfort of knowing that your lifeline to civilization is still there. It’s quite another thing to live in the wilderness, alone, for an extended time. But that’s exactly what Elijah did for months, possibly the better part of a year. God said, “Go there. Settle there. Live there.” That’s exactly what Elijah did.
Would you accept such an assignment from God? Would you respond with such immediate obedience? How many of us would say nothing except, “Yes, Sir. I trust You completely. I don’t need the spotlight to survive.” Very few! We much prefer only comfortable and active Christianity.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with being a leader or fulfilling the role of spokesman for God, how easy it is to become addicted to the public forum, feeling that we are indispensable to God’s plan. How easy to neglect, ignore, or overlook those occasions when we need to pull back, be quiet, regroup, rethink, and renew our souls.