I like to work with wood. I have made shelves, cabinets and shadow boxes, cut out cows, cars, t ruck s , p umpkins and scare crows. I have made big and small projects. I have used hardwoods, softwoods, old wood, new wood and barn wood. My creations have come from my imagination mostly, none having a pattern or instructions with measurements. I just sit down, draw it out and jot down a few measurements. Nothing spectacular, but I give as gifts and some I even sell.
A couple weeks back I had an experience that left a memorable mark. I sat in the presence and witnessed a master craftsman at work. He would deny it, but the finished product spoke for itself. This man does wood turning (making things using a wood lathe). He was showing me his shop (which was quite impressive in itself) and said, “Pastor, how about I make you a cross?” Sounded good to me.
I watched as he went to a stack of wood logs of various widths and circumferences and picked just the right one. I have to admit, it would not have been my first choice (second, third or fourth either). The piece was a piece of cedar, about 14” long and 12” round. It had several knots and was, well, ugly. Surely there is a better piece he could choose. But, that was his choice and he began to go to work.
H e marked the center on one end and put a chuck in the center of the other end, then placed it in the lathe. Next he picked the proper tool from a wall of tools (roughing and finishing gouge as well as a spindle gouge, skew chisel, parting tool, scrapers and hones – only to name a few). As I looked at the tools I thought to myself, “Where does one even begin?” But to this craftsman, it was no problem.
He got the lathe turning at the proper speed and the wood chips started flying. But, no danger to him as he had on a pair of safety glasses, a face shield and a shirt that zipped up to the chin, all to keep the chips from hurting, damaging or irritating the craftsman. He gouged some here and there until the piece was rounded. Then he used a different gouge and chisel to further define areas on the wood. He scraped a little here and there, stopping occasionally to adjust speed and look at the creation in process. Never once did he measure with a tape or caliper. It was all done by eye and memory.
After about 30 minutes of working and a massive pile of wood chips and shavings, he pulled out some sand paper and began smoothing the piece of wood. Still, I couldn’t see the cross in a round piece of wood. He then had a couple of splits and cracks. He got some filler and glue to take care of the blemishes. Next he sanded and smoothed. Once satisfied, he went to the band saw and made a cut here and there and VIOLA! There it was… a cross on a beautiful layered pedestal. The cedar wood grain was gorgeous with a cross highlighted by it.
The finished product was beyond what I could imagine…from a piece of ugly cedar at that. To me, it was good only to burn as kindling for a fire, but to him, it was holding a piece of beauty that would bring glory to God.
Made me think…that is us and God. We see something that has no beauty, no apparent use, and good for nothing. God looks deep within and sees something completely different. He is a master craftsman with the right tools in a shop to create things that will bring Him glory, remove the ugly and show the beauty. He knows what is inside.
Made me think of how I look at others. I may not see anything but a rambunctious child, a knowit- all teenager, a smug young adult or belligerent older adult. But, is that what God sees? We do not know.
When you see yourself, what do you see, a piece of knotty wood, ugly and/or useless. What does God see? Who would have thought God could use me as a servant (Youth and Pastor) for the past 35+ years. God is the Master Craftsman. He sees the beauty in all and can work it for “His good works…” (Eph. 2:10) Bro. Tim