Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From the Wood in my Wheelbarrow

What’s this? “Surely this woman is losing her marbles…” some might posture. But in truth, when the marbles in our heads stop colliding with each other and clanging around in our minds, we are sometimes better equipped to “hear”, to actually “hear” what is being whispered to us in constant, gentle, steady, patient streams of life-giving words.  Words that don’t actually come from the wood in the wheelbarrow; what a frightening notion it would be if they truly did. But rather, when the “madness” of life is held at bay just long enough for us to “hear” the steady flow of messages being sent to us from God above through the work of the Holy Spirit. And since He is God, the creator of the wood, and the Holy Spirit is His messenger to us, it makes perfect sense , in a wonderfully odd way, that God could whisper to me through the wood in my wheelbarrow. Only God. That’s the beauty.

Our family loves to sit by a glowing fire in our cozy family room. We have opted to decline the pleasures of the central heating system on the main floor of our home and instead we fully embrace the good pleasures of a warm fire on cold days. We’re a bit odd there some would say. We love the whole process: downing the dead trees surrendered by nature for our firewood, splitting the wood into usable pieces, stacking and storing the promised winter warmth, hauling the wood to our precious front porch, and even stoking the fire to ensure the continued presence of our warm glowing friend throughout the cold wintry days in Georgia. We love it all. It’s a way we remind ourselves of our dependence on God’s provision and we see and feel His blessings in the warmth of that fire.

Friday, I snuck out to the woodshed to load the wheelbarrow with more wood to be delivered to the front porch. I have to sneak, since my dear husband and sons would much prefer I let them bring in the wood. (I love being a lady who lives with gentlemen.) But the boys were away, Steve was on an errand, and I seized the opportunity. Loading the dried oak pieces onto our decades old wheelbarrow, I talked with God as I worked. Sweet are the moments when the tasks at hand will allow the heart, mind, and soul to visit with their Father. And as I prayed for those on my heart, the whisper came to me while carrying the wood in the wheelbarrow.
“What sort of wood do you want to be?” was the thought, the whisper, the pondering that came to me. “What? I wouldn’t want to be any sort of wood Lord. Wood is destroyed, used up, of value for a season or two, but then forgotten and only remembered in the ashes that are strewn after its sacrifice to our warmth.”

And then it came more clearly. How very much like wood we all are. Silly perhaps, but I saw and heard the connection.

Someday, we will be used up – we will not live forever – we will see the ending of our days.
We may seem of value for a season or two, just like the firewood in my wheelbarrow. Granted our “season” will hopefully last for years. But eventually our summer will turn to fall, which will roll into our winter, and we will come to our end.
We are told in God’s Word, and we know it to be true, dust will return to dust and ashes to ashes. We will not always be here. Period.
And what will remain after us will be the legacy in the ashes left behind. Will our ashes leave a remembrance of warmth or a chill?
In the end, we will come to an end. But not many of us want to dwell on those sort of thoughts --- for we are fully alive and want to embrace life instead. Yet there is value, great value, in pondering the possibilities of the end results with regards to our present choices.

Still, the whisper came to me, “What kind of wood do you want to be Donna?”
Not all wood is used as firewood. Some wood lives and dies in the forest, never having been seen by anyone --- only known by its surrounding brothers and sisters and the animals that lived on it, ate from it, or rested near it for a time. Some wood becomes lumber to be used for building roofs, walls, floors, and ceilings. Other wood is used for making furniture or carvings. Sometimes, the tallest and strongest wood is used to form beams that will be forged into great ships or offer supports in massive buildings of beautiful character. All this came to mind as the whisper came to my heart. What kind of wood do you want to be?
Some among us do not pause to wonder that there might be options; choices that could be weighed and pondered and allow us to make decisions that give way to us being forged into a strong beam, or becoming a perch for those who need to rest, or giving ourselves completely for the short but certain warmth of another.
Granted, some choices are taken from us, we can not alter where we were planted or what opportunities have or have not come our way. But we do have many options before us regardless of the circumstances we are handed.

In truth, we have a Father who is persistently hopeful we will  “be still and know that He is God”. And in the certainty of who He is, He allows us to make choices concerning who we will be. Yes, He knows the plans He has for us, and they are not to harm us, but to give us a hope and a future. But God in His sovereignty has not created us to be puppets. He has chosen to give us the ability to learn, think, and decide for ourselves --- What do we want? Who do we want? What matters most to us? Who do we believe? Who is our God? What do we do with Him?

Therein lies the importance to the simple question. What kind of wood do you want to be? When the ashes are strewn after your seasons are finished, what will be the legacy they whisper in the wind.
Each of our answers might be different. They are actually suppose to be, right?

It’s in the search for the personal answer that we are better equipped to pursue the warm fire, or peaceful perch, or safe covering, or strong beam, or comfortable place for others to sit and rest.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

What kind of wood do you want to be?
How will our choices exalt Him among the nations and in the earth?
Even in a piece of “wood” there are so many possibilities.

(I’m so thankful to have grown in a tree near yours.)


  1. i want to be wood that is smooth from the touch of the Master's hand.

    i want the people i come in contact with to find me a sheltering wood that refreshes.

    i want to be a strong wood, fed by still waters that quiet my core.

    thanks for the analogy, donna.

  2. Not a silly notion at all I say, but just the perfect one to ponder! "When the ashes are strewn after your seasons are finished, what will be the legacy they whisper in the wind?" Beautiful, Donna. Love, Kathy

  3. Thank you Jenn and Kathy. You words encourage me much!
    If we were wood growing in a forest - I'd like for my tree to be right beside both of your trees. If we're strong beams - I'd like mine to be supporting yours. If we're wood on the woodpile - about to be burned for the warmth of another - I'd like to be stacked beside you.

    In reality - God, in His goodness, has allowed all three of these ---- and I'm thankful.