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Wood of Our Faith: A Paradigm for New Hope

I've loved woodworking my entire life. As a child, I built forts and tree stands from scrap wood my dad had lying around the garage, or, in my more refined moments, I selected special woods in order to construct bird houses, flower pots, tool boxes, paper towel holders, and the like. These early creations were admittedly quite rudimentary, but as my skills improved, so did the quality of my work. Although I don't have the time to do as much woodworking these days, when I do get out to the shop, I am able to craft some rather nifty products, principal among these are guitars, basses, ukuleles, and other stringed instruments. To be a participant in turning a slab of wood into something useful and beautiful is one of the greatest joys in my life.

But it's just wood, right? I mean, what can one really learn from a mass of cellulose fiber? Woodworking is at best a pastime or money-making opportunity. This is how I thought for a long time, and it resulted in giving little real attention to the woodworking endeavor. It was just something I did to relax or work creatively with my hands or, in rare cases, to make some pocket cash.

All this changed, however, during a daily Bible reading a year or so ago. Notwithstanding the common assertion that our Lord Jesus Christ was himself a woodworker (i.e., carpenter), I realized that in three very particular places in the New Testament, we see wood figuring quite prominently in God's message of new hope and new life. The first place is Luke 2:7, where we witness Mary place the baby Jesus in a manger--a small wooden trough used to feed domesticated animals. From this manger, Jesus was nurtured, met shepherds and wise men, and grew in strength to become a boy, then a man, and then the Savior and Hope of the world. And, of course, he did his salvific work on the second piece of wood, namely, the cross of the crucifixion (John 19). On this cross--hewn most likely out of acacia or cypress wood--Jesus was beaten, nailed, impaled, and left to die. From this cross, he uttered the infamous words, "It is finished," signifying universal atonement and redemption. One might even rightly and ironically refer to Christ's implement of capital punishment as the cross of new hope or the cross of new life. Indeed, it changed the world forever and made all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17)! What is more, it started the clock for Christ's second coming at the end of days--his return in power and great glory--when we will witness the reemergence of the third piece of wood: the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is first seen in Genesis 2:9, but after the fall of man, it disappears from the pages of Scripture until it reappears in the New Heaven and New Earth in Revelation 22. The return of the Tree of Life, thus, marks a new life of promise, perfection, and righteousness under the eternal reign of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords--i.e., a second Garden of Eden. Naturally, this is meant to provide the believer hope for today and hope for the future.

As I've watched our country seemingly spin out of control over the past decade or so, I have, like many of you, longed for something upon which to anchor myself--some tidbit of tactile hope. Sure, I've always had the stories of faith, the promises of God, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and these are without a doubt the surest of anchors. Even so, I wanted something more tangible...something I could look at and hold to remind me of my eternal hope in Christ Jesus...something fresh and new. And God gave it to me in the simplicity of wood. So, today, whenever I'm working on a guitar, hammering a nail, building a picture frame, trimming a tree, or doing virtually anything else with wood, I think about the hope I have in Jesus--a hope as strong as the oak, as nimble as the willow, and as enduring as the pine.

Do you like this paradigm? Would you like a reminder of Christ's hope in your life? If so, fill out the short form at the link below, and my church and I will send you a small, pocket-sized wooden cross you can carry around with you. This will serve as a constant reminder to you of Jesus' new life in the manger, our new life through His death on the cross, and the hope of new life to come through the Tree of Life. What do you say?

Click the following link to request a wooden cross:

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