This past week I spent a full day staining wood planks for trim work in the new gym. It isn't particularly glamorous work, but finishing work is important and it needed to be done. While I was staining plank after plank after plank I began to appreciate exactly what I was working with. These planks came from trees.
Somewhere 50 to 100 years ago a seed sprouted. That seed grew into something magnificent and majestic that towered over lesser plants and shrubs. That housed innumerable birds, squirrels, and other animals. That tree may have provided shade for a weary traveler on a hot summer day. That tree, I'm sure, has countless stories that it could tell! That is if it could speak. And had a mouth. And was sentient in some way.
Regardless of the fact that Ents remain a fictional species found only in Middle Earth, I found the idea of what this wood had become to be intriguing. It was being used for art (an industrial art, but definitely art none the less). And I began to think about knots.
Knots in the wood are found when branches sprout from the trunk of the main tree or when smaller branches sprout from large limbs. When the wood is hewn into planks, these knots are actually a structural weakness. Sometimes when doing wood working knots will actually fall out of pieces of wood. And yet, it is those weaknesses that make the wood so beautiful. Those weaknesses help define the wood and help the wood to take on a character of it's own. A skilled artisan will take those weaknesses and use them to show off his strength and skill.
In much the same way, God uses our weaknesses, when we are willing to let God shape us into what he desires, to create incredible beauty. A friend of mine got married about a year ago. His bride can sometimes be... "passionate". Here's the deal with passion though.
Things that boil over get messy.
Most people don't like "messy".
Her "passion" sometimes makes her laugh when others are silent. Her "passion" sometimes makes her cry when others are laughing. Her "passion" sometimes makes her scream when others are crying. Her "passion" sometimes makes her throw things when others are screaming. And you probably don't want to see her when others are at the point of throwing things.
But there is one more thing.
God has transformed this weakness - this knot - into something amazing, something beautiful. She loves harder than just about anyone else I know. She laughs more. She will be the first person to cry with you when you've had a terrible day. She will also be right next to you screaming in your defense when you've been wronged.
Her emotional side is her greatest weakness and yet her most endearing characteristic. God uses her weakness to create beauty. God is awesome that way!
Remember that it is the knots- the weakest points in the wood- that make it beautiful. And God wants to use your weak points to show off his beautiful creation too. Do you know anyone who's weakness shows God's great idea of beauty?