Have you ever built a fire and noticed a piece of wood with black lines running through it? The term for those black lines in the wood is called “spalting”. The spalting occurs in the early stages of decay and typically results from the wood being exposed to the elements. These lines are made up of various fungi and the lines create sections within the wood that the fungus intends to consume. Most people will look at the black lines and then toss the wood into the fire.
But for many woodworkers, spalted wood is highly favored, and especially to those who turn wood bowls or vases.
Those crazy black lines of fungus create natural designs and patterns that are not only beautiful, but create a wooden item that is truly unique and one of a kind. A woodworker sees the potential beauty of the spalted wood when others just see a piece of firewood.
When the woodworker rescues a log from the fire pit he often sees potential others do not. He then puts it through a process of cutting, milling and preparing the piece of wood to be used. After the log has been prepared to be used, he applies his woodworking skills and the result is a beautiful wooden masterpiece that reflects the woodworker's vision, creativity and is often enjoyed by others. What was once a fire log that would provide temporary heat is now a masterpiece that brings joy and appreciation for God’s creation.
The word “masterpiece” is defined as “a work of outstanding artistry, skill or workmanship." Historically it was a piece of work by a craftsman accepted as qualification for membership in a guild as an acknowledged master. In Ephesians 2:10, it says that we are God’s masterpiece.
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
I used to wonder “how can I be His masterpiece with all the junk of my past? Poor decisions, mistakes and hurts." Some of the regrets and shame I have carried felt like I was rotting from the inside like the fungus in the spalted wood. This verse says we are created anew in Jesus to do the works He has already prepared for us. The work is often already there and waiting, it’s us being prepared and equipped.
Romans 8:1 says “There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Much like the woodworker that sees the potential in an old fungus ridden piece of wood, God reaches down and like the fire log pulls us out of our ‘stuff’ and begins working on us. Through His forgiveness, teaching and His church, He makes the ‘spalting’ in our lives something beautiful for Him. And when we trust Him with all the ‘spalted’ in our lives, He will use it to create beauty out of other people’s ‘spalt’ through community and discipleship.
He used the ‘spalt’ in my life to prepare for service and ministry. Bankruptcy taught me dependance on His provision, Loss taught me to press into Him for comfort, bullying and rejection as a kid reminds me of the importance of helping others feel welcome. The ‘spalt’ of life is endless but so is His grace and redemptive love. If you will give Him your ‘spalting’ He will make beautiful in your life. Don’t just trust Him with it, have confidence in Him to make your life His Masterpiece. Grace changes everything.
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