Living in a northern climate, we are in winter already. Having the blessing of a wood burning fireplace in the family room I have spent some time lately splitting wood. I had some large pieces of birch aging in my backyard for a couple of years. These large logs averaged about 30-35 centimetres across (12-14 inches) and were about 45 centimetres (18 inches) high. I waited until the weather was below freezing to do my splitting because even though there is very little moisture in them, they are easier to split in colder weather.
Given the size of these logs it was a real challenge and I considered getting out the chainsaw to cut them into shorter pieces. However, I never did, I just persevered in my splitting. It is hard work and I split about ten large logs over two sessions. At times I concluded some would simply not split as they had large knots from branches, but then as I persevered, they did.
If you have spent any time splitting logs you are aware of how difficult it can be. At times the axe gets caught in a log and is hard to extricate. There can be a feeling of futility at times, yes, I felt this. However, the encouragement comes when you see a small crack appear down the side of the log. Even if it is only a quarter of the way you know that if you continue it will get wider and longer and the log will split. At times you will have a very stubborn unyielding piece of log that seems like it will never split and then you strike just the right blow and the pieces seem to burst apart and you now have two or three smaller pieces rather than one large one to deal with. It is much easier to split the remaining smaller pieces.
So, now let us look at how we can draw something of spiritual value from a log splitting experience. In writing this I was thinking of David. His story begins in 1 Samuel 16 where Samuel anointed him as king to replace Saul. In spite of being mocked by some of his older siblings he soon starts his journey to the throne by killing Goliath and subsequently serving Saul. In time out of jealousy Saul drove David away and then over a period of years pursued him to kill him. David had opportunities to kill Saul but refused, trusting the Lord to deal with him.
We pick the story up in 1 Samuel 29. David had fled to seek refuge among the Philistines with king Achish and now all the Philistines were gathering together to battle Israel and David and his men were set to go with them. To this point while seemingly serving Achish David had secretly been venturing out and raiding the enemies of Israel. David however has no way out of this battle with Israel. That is until the other Philistine lords refused to allow David and his men to go with them into the battle against Saul and David and his men are forced to separate from the Philistine army and return to Ziklag.
It is in this pending battle between the Philistines and Israel that Saul and Jonathan will die and the army of Israel will be defeated. David of course does not know this. When he and his men return to their stronghold at Ziklag they discover that the Amalekites have raided their camp, burned their fortress and taken everyone captive, including the families of the men with David.
Consider what David has been through. As a youth he was anointed king, became a warrior, served Saul and served the Lord. Hs loyalty has been rewarded by betrayal, a king hunting him to kill him and being forced to live at various places in the wilderness. In addition to his family and some loyal warriors he has also had the privilege of providing leadership to the discouraged and disgruntled who have come to him from Israel. At this point he is about 30 years of age so it has been well over a decade since he was anointed king and while he now has wives and children he is still a fugitive.
Though David has been faithful in following the Lord what was promised when Samuel anointed him king has certainly not been realized. Now we have the response of those he has been leading when they find their families have been taken captive and their camp burned.
6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 (NKJV)
David’s own men want to stone him! However David continues his pattern and looks to the Lord. Like trying to split a stubborn log, after all David has been through, though he is unaware of it, his perseverance and faithfulness are about to lead to breakthrough. The Lord is about to undertake on his behalf and deal with Saul. This is David’s final test before becoming king.
In our own lives we likely have unfulfilled promises from the Lord and have had various tests and trials. If we have been faithful to steward these promises then we can anticipate a breakthrough. Let’s look for just a little crack in the log and persevere until we see His hand move on our behalf!