As we are entering winter, and the time of burning fires for heat, I have been working on getting ready by splitting the wood that I gathered earlier in the year. As I worked, I was thinking about how these trees stood tall on the hillside of Legacy Heights and now they are being prepared to be burned in a fireplace or wood stove. One of the trees was over 30 inches in diameter and well over 50 feet in height less than a year ago. Now it sits in roughly 16-18 inch long rounds waiting to be split, stacked and burned.
At first it seemed kinda sad to think about a majestic tree coming to nothing, but then the Lord showed me that we all go through seasons and processes to be used for His Kingdom. And more importantly, even that which has been attacked by beetles still has a use, but it needs to be prepared.
In preparing the tree to be ready for use in a fire, there is a process. First, it needs to be felled. Then the limbs need to be removed, and the trunk cut into lengths that will fit the fireplace or stove – these are called rounds. The rounds have to be split into smaller pieces for burning. If the tree was alive when felled, it will need to be seasoned – left to dry for a time.
Sometimes the wind takes care of felling the tree, but most times a saw is required. Sometimes when a tree is felled, it will hit other trees causing damage. I’ve seen young, healthy trees completely crushed by the fall of a bigger tree.
When spiritual leaders become corrupted by the disease of sin, they become weak like a tree attacked by beetles. The wind that blows on all of us will eventually cause the leader to fall. Unfortunately, there is generally collateral damage as others are hurt and some fall away from faith as a result.
A skilled woodsman can fell a tree so that there is little to no collateral damage. In the church, it is best for a diseased leader to be removed skillfully to minimize the impact on others. “If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” Galatians 6:1.
For all of us, we need to have the old life cut down. While this is not a perfect analogy, our fall is the cutting down of our life of sin. When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, the old is cut down, and we are a new creation. There is, however, a process the Lord takes us through to maturity.
Cut to size
Like a tree, we often have things sticking out of us that need to be removed. We may have a limb of false doctrine or a branch of a bad habit. There may be attitudes needing to be trimmed away.
I’ve been told that I’m too big for my britches more than once, fortunately not recently. I had to be cut down to size. Not a fun or enjoyable process for sure, but important.
When our pride and ego gets too big, we won’t fit into what God has for us to do. Just like a big tree doesn’t fit into a wood stove.
Even once we’re cut to the right length, we may need to be broken even further. This may be the wounds of life or the loss of people, things, or dreams. A separation from parts of ourselves.
The hurts and struggles of my past are often what allows me to be able to help others today. I have an empathy and ability to relate to a pastor that is going through burnout, or a missionary that is having a crisis of faith. I’m able to come alongside them with real experience, not just theory. While each person’s experiences are different, we can relate on a real level when we have gone through similar hurts and losses.
God doesn’t waste a hurt or toss aside a loss. He uses each and every broken time in our life. He is the great redeemer. See Romans 8:28
Waiting. Sitting around, seemingly doing nothing. Enduring the sun and rain and winds. Wondering when I get to be used. I’ve been broken, now what?
There are times that we have to go through periods of waiting. These are often the hardest times. We know what the calling from God is for our life, and we are anxious to get started. He has given us confirmations of what is coming, and yet, we sit.
When wood that is not properly seasoned is put in a fire, it pops and burns erratically. This doesn’t make for an enjoyable fire. The noise and sudden explosions are not comforting and can be dangerous as embers are shot out of the fireplace.
When Christians are put in the fire prematurely, we tend to make noises we shouldn’t, popping off at others, and being erratic in our work. We can even cause damage to those around us. After going through a process of seasoning, we are more able to hold our tongue and less likely to explode when the heat is on.
After the trimming and cutting and seasoning, we will be ready to be lit on fire. God moves us into the work that He has designed and prepared us to do. We are ready to be completely consumed by Him as we provide warmth and light to the world around us.
We all want to be ready to be used in the Lord’s Kingdom. It is important that we go through the process of being cut to size, split, and seasoned so that we can burn effectively for God. Know that the greater the trials, and deeper the hurts, the more ability we have to help others, and the greater the impact our lives can be for the Kingdom of Heaven.
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