If you are a regular reader you know I have been creating a dining room table with my daughter, Michelle. We are using very old growth pine obtained from a reuse warehouse and the wood has a character of its own. It has already been used in two house projects, judging by the number of nail holes. Sanding the edges and surfaces has revealed tunnels made in the wood by insects, probably termites. Those random tunnel designs add yet another layer of character and Michelle has decided to leave them in place as she wants the table to look old and distressed. Michelle and Shawn have sanded the edges of the tunnels smooth.
Now that the table is complete I was reminded, “But, Dad, what about the benches?” Oh! OK. I examined the remaining wood which was somewhat damaged during demolition and found sections that could be cut out giving 3 benches that are about 12” wide by 30” in length.
But what about the legs and the supports? Could I get enough clear wood for those? Yes, if I rip the pine on my table saw. Ripping wood on the table saw is a common practice in the shop. I set the saw up, adjusted the blade depth and the fence and grabbed the first piece to rip. And I have to tell you I was blown away as the saw seemed to choke and stall on that board. I turned the saw off and pulled the board out thinking I must have missed a nail. No. It was all wood and as hard and tough as anything I ever cut.
I figured the saw blade was dull since we recently cut a lot of bamboo flooring so I changed blades. The new blade helped a lot but still the saw was having trouble in that wood. Some sections were filled with resin and even harder to cut. Welcome to the Tar Heel State! But I cut slowly, stuck with the job and now have a pile of supports and legs ripped out to use in assembling the benches. It is hard for me to believe in the old days wood like this was worked by hand. Those were very strong hands with even stronger arms behind them!
I am reading through the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament and just finished the parable of the sower and the seed (Luke 8:4-15). Mathew and Mark also included this parable. In the story the sower scatters seed on various types of ground. It is the same seed exposed to the same sunshine and rain yet some of the seed produced fruit while other seed failed. Jesus explained it is the soil condition that made the difference and the spiritual application is a heart has to be prepared to accept the Word of God and bear fruit.
And here I was in the garage cutting some of the hardest wood I have worked and the truth came home. If I want my time in God’s Word to bear fruit, if I want to get something out of the stuff I read and the sermons I hear, then I need to prepare my heart. There is a time to be tough so I am not swayed by the world’s influence but there is also a time when I need to be teachable, shapeable, and moldable. He still speaks if we take time to listen.
How can I prepare the soil of my heart so it accepts the seed and bears a bumper crop?
1. Dig and break it up. All of it. No part left untouched. I am continually finding things in my heart I am ashamed of and it serves as a reminded to keep plowing to get all the dirt clods broken into finer soil.
2. Do some observation. Take a personal spiritual inventory. Look in the mirror of God’s Word and see how we stack up.
3. Remove any rocks and impediments to growth. Hebrews 12:1 – “…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us …” What trips us spiritually? What consumes the time we should be investing in Bible study?
4. Add some compost, the right materials and nutrients. What do I read? What do I listen to? What am I memorizing and stuffing into my heart?
5. Be ready to pull weeds as soon as they sprout.