Thursday, September 18, 2008

Logging

by John D Ramsey

Tonight while the little girls were at AWANA, Lisa and I stopped at ACE Hardware and bought a maul and a wedge. When we came home, I did not come inside before playing with my new toys. I split a few logs from the tree we had cut down on Monday. Lisa observed, “Those five-dollar bundles of wood we bought while camping are beginning to look like a good deal.” I had to laugh at myself. It was getting dark and I could not see, but all excuses aside, I am not a lumberjack. I am a geek. I sit in front of a desk all day writing SQL queries and C# code. Today at work I had a back spasm just thinking about swinging a maul. Tonight, my back is still complaining, but now it has a reason.

I know that the principles of mechanical physics apply to log splitting. Accordingly, the log stands no chance against a properly executed blow from the maul. However, theory alone will not produce for me a neat stack of firewood. The application of the theory requires skill. Absent skill, brute strength would do, but my greatest strengths are less brutish and more geek.

When it was too dark to see – my glasses clouded with sweat, I came inside the house and sat down in front of my computer – my domain. I was huffing, puffing, but smiling, too. I have a small stack of firewood to show for all my sweat. Yet, it is more firewood than I had earlier this evening. Each day for the next week or so, I will try to split a few more logs until I get the best of the tree or until the tree gets the best of me. Maybe I will learn a new skill. If not, I will certainly enjoy a few laughs at my expense.

It is not often that we celebrate our frailties – at least not deliberately. We usually expend our efforts doing things for which we have talent and avoiding activities that expose our deficiencies. Common wisdom tells us to do what we do best. Nevertheless, our walk of faith turns common wisdom upside down. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying,

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

1 Corinthians 1:26, 27 (NIV)

Not many wise, not many influential, not many noble, yet those whom God chooses he uses regardless of their weaknesses. In fact, he uses us because of our weakness. Why does God use weak men? Because our weakness testifies of his strength.

God gave the Apostle Paul one of the greatest promises in Scripture when he told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul celebrated this truth telling the Corinthians,

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Scripture continually observes this pattern that Paul descibes. Abraham, the nomadic shepherd, destroyed five kings and their armies. Sarah, the barren woman, became the mother of Isaac. Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, became the second-highest ruler in Egypt. Moses, condemned to die even before he was born, became the deliverer of Israel. Joshua, Moses’ former servant, led Israel as they took possession of the Promised Land. Gideon, the least of his father’s sons became the deliverer of Israel. Samuel anointed David, the shepherd boy, to be king of Israel. All of these exhibit God’s strength working despite human weakness. Likewise, Jesus chose fishermen and tax collectors to be his disciples.

Yet Jesus, himself, is the greatest example of God’s strength revealed out of weakness. The Son of God, the visible expression of God, gave up all the glory that was rightfully his, and he became a man. Jesus lived a humble life. He often had no place to live. He owned no property. His family thought he was crazy. The religious authorities wanted to kill him. The political authorities were indifferent to his life. His disciples betrayed, denied, or abandoned him. Ultimately, a death squad crucified him. He hung on the cross, exposed and suffering while the crowds ridiculed him. Jesus, who had no sin, took upon his body the sins of the whole world. Jesus became the shame of all men so he could carry the shame of all men into the grave. Jesus fulfilled both sides of the following equation: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NIV) In truth, Jesus became the weakest of men so that he could become the power of God unto salvation.

In human weakness, God reveals his strength. Following the death of Jesus, God the Father raised him from the dead. Not only was he alive again, but he had paid the curse of sin thereby reconciling sinners to their God. We who receive the gift of God now also obtain Christ’s resurrection unto eternal life.

We might not ever become comfortable with our weakness, but as we walk in faith, we learn that in our weakest moments God reveals the power of Christ’s resurrection in us. When we realize we are weak, we should praise God, because the weaker we are, the more likely we are to see God’s power and glory working in our lives.

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