I wanted to share this beautiful devotion written by my friend Susan Delgado-Park, a missionary in Lima, Peru. Susan wrote this during a Silent Retreat held while I was in Peru this month. I asked her if I could share it with you. Susan told me she thought she would spend time outside in the beautiful garden when the group was released to be silent with God. God directed her to the stairs in the entryway where she was surrounded by beautiful wood floors while sitting on a staircase made from wood. The retreat was the day before Holy Cross Day which added to the significance of her reflection.
As I sat on a set of polished wooden stairs, I begin to reflect about the sense of comfort from the beauty of the wood all around me. There's something wonderful about wood; its warmth, smoothness, smell, strong yet flexible. I noticed that you can see the signs of growth in a piece of wood, the whorls of new growth where the tree reached up and branched out catching the light. There are even the places where it was damaged or hurt while it was growing.
Then I am reminded that Jesus worked as a carpenter. He worked with wood. It dawns on me that He worked with that material which would eventually be the cause of His death. Did He know it even then that He would die nailed to a piece of wood? And yet He continued to make useful things, beautiful things, strong things, all the while knowing that in the end the material with which He labored would be His earthly end.
- Jesus was not murdered by being clubbed to death, although He was beaten.
- Jesus was not killed by stoning, although He stumbled and fell on them in His final walk.
- Jesus did not die by bleeding to death, although He bled.
- Jesus did not die by spear, although it did pierce His side.
Jesus, I am reminded as we approach Holy Cross Day, that it was chosen for You to die on a cross, a cross made of wood. That wood was made in a special way; it was something of your own creation, because all things were made through you.(Hebrews 1:2). It was close to its original form, not man-made like iron or bronze.
All raw materials can be used and changed for good or evil. Wood retains the marks made on it--the dings and gouges. Lord, I am older, I have very little raw material left. Take those pieces of my life, take those finished products with their dings and gouges, take those things that were started and never finished, help me pick up even the scraps knowing that you can use those. Help me to be strong, yet flexible, as you rasp over my life taking away those rough edges, and broken places that need your master touch to be mended. Help me as you deal with those dings and gouges to remember those people and situations that caused them and to lift them up to you. Then take your sandpaper to me once again and smooth them out. Master Carpenter, make me a new creation according to your purpose for my life.
Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd