I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
I have always been amazed by the people who are able to make beautiful carvings out of wood. Have you ever seen some of the intricate woodwork inside the colonial homes or in the old cathedrals? I don’t understand how they were able to accomplish that without the modern tools we have today. Have you ever seen a carving on display in a place of business? I can’t comprehend the ability to do something like that (mainly because I have almost no artistic ability myself). Even watching the guys at work with a chainsaw carve out the animal statues and sculpting things from a giant hunk of wood is captivating.
Regardless of what is being made out of the piece of wood, in almost every case I have noticed one key thing. When the artist went to work constructing his masterpiece, the piece of wood itself was dead. It would be pretty impossible to nail ornate woodwork to the ceiling of a cathedral if the tree was still rooted in the ground. It would make no sense to spend hours carving a beautiful statue into a live tree, only to watch it continue to grow and ruin the sculpture. And besides that, how would he ever get that onto a display in a business. The truth is, a craftsman is able to do his best work when a tree is cut into pieces, and a tree that is cut into pieces is no longer alive.
Our lives are no different. It almost sounds like a contradiction to say that we have to die to flourish, but that is exactly how God designed us. When I die to myself and to my own will, then God can begin the work of sculpting something beautiful out of my life.
A good woodworker is able to look at a piece of wood and tell exactly what it would be useful for and exactly what it could become. He doesn’t see the raw material when he sees a log, he sees the potential, and he can envision the finished product. So God is with us. He knows how best to use each person. All He is waiting for is for us to die to self so He can begin his work of transforming an otherwise worthless hunk of flesh into something that will be very useful for His service.