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Let the Heat Bring Out the Grain

Photo by Proforged, flickr.com

“No,” he replied to my surprise, “we simply put the wood in a fire just long enough to char the wood between the grain, which is more porous and burns more quickly. Then we planed the beams lightly, leaving the deeply charred spaces between the grain black. We let the heat bring out the grain and that’s what gives it a rustic effect.”

By K. Phillips:

After an elderly neighbor lost his weekend cottage in a careless fire, I helped in the cleanup effort of what looked more like the aftermath of a small bomb blast on his wooded plot of land. What had once been a quiet getaway home had been reduced to heaps of charred wood and rubble that needed to be cleared before a new cottage could be built. In the salvage process I dug through mountains of burnt and scorched wood, from old floorboards to large beams. Some pieces had been turned to charcoal or ashes, but others could be cut and stacked into piles to be used as firewood. Yet others had come through the fire virtually unscathed and could be reused in the reconstruction. One day the cottage had been there, and the next it was gone, leaving behind only memories and a nearly worthless heap of smoldering rubble. Why do things like that have to happen?

I went through a time recently when I felt like the remains of that old cottage. There just didn’t seem to be any future for me. I was sure I had “crashed and burned” for the last time. My usefulness was over.

But then I remembered a visit to a friend’s house, when he took me on a tour of his wine cellar. The ceiling had exposed beams, and I commented the wood must be quite old and have been through a lot to show so much character.

“No,” he replied to my surprise, “this is a new cellar, built with new timber. We simply put the wood in a fire just long enough to char the wood between the grain, which is more porous and burns more quickly. Then we planed the beams lightly, leaving the deeply charred spaces between the grain black. We let the heat bring out the grain and that’s what gives it a rustic effect.”

To think that they had deliberately done something so potentially harmful to what must have been a small fortune in timber! But the process had transformed what otherwise would have been ordinary pine beams into richly textured ones, with every streak and swirl of the grain plainly visible, adding beauty and a rustic ambiance to the cellar.

God does much the same with us during those trying times when we “feel the heat.” What seems like the very thing that will consume us instead brings out our “grain,” our character. He sees our potential and wants to reveal it to us and others. The process might be painful and leave us an unsightly mess temporarily, but when He gets finished with us, others will marvel at the Master Carpenter’s wisdom and skill.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Photo by Proforged, flickr.com

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