The Thicknesser in Life

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:11-14 ESV). Over the Christmas holidays, our youngest son, Aaron, came home. He is an excellent cook, an amateur gourmet chef. When we visited with him in the summer at his home in Washington DC, I noticed his cutting board was very small and well-used. I asked if he wanted one bigger. His answer was revealing: “Sure. But they are really expensive to get a good one.” Well, I’ve got the answer to that. We could build it when he came home. I have all the necessary tools for such a fun project. We took a trip to a local exotic wood dealer and bought some hardwoods. We choose Purpleheart, walnut, African mahogany, curly maple, and oak. Our first step in the process was to get the wood to the same thickness and desired width for each piece. Without taking a lot of time describing that process, suffice it to say it required some significant cutting and shaving of the wood. After we were done with that step there was plenty of sawdust and shavings on the floor! One of the machines essential in this process is a “thicknesser” (planer). If you’ve never seen one of these in action you will find it difficult to imagine. Let me merely say that it is rather “violent.” There are very sharp blades that rotate very fast and “shave” the wood all across its surface. That must be repeated as often as necessary to get it the right thickness. If the wood had “feelings” I’m sure it would be very painful! Yet, that is the only way to get it to the place where it can become a beautiful, useful piece for the kitchen. So, here’s the application. God designs and ordains what we are to become from the beginning. Along the way, it may require that we be run through the “thicknesser.” I’ve been there; and, I know from those experiences that they are never painless. This is not punishment. Jesus took all of our punishment on the cross. This is the Master Craftsman making us into that perfect piece for our lives. Real beauty and usefulness is rare in combination. Yet, this is precisely what God does in our lives. I know it sounds crazy for me to tell you to welcome those times on your life, even though that’s exactly what our reading today directs us to do. Remember, the pain is not forever. It will pass and leave an incredible work in your life. Draw strength from that...

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