Life is Hard!

I am a strong believer that God uses everything that happens in life to teach us something about Himself if we will just listen to His Spirit and allow Him to instruct us. Then I search God’s Word to see what God has specifically said regarding what the Spirit has impressed upon my mind.

I am a pen turner and I love to work at my lathe. I have learned many things about life as I work at my lathe. Each step of the process in turning a piece of wood or antler into a pen is painful to the material with which I am working. The process includes cutting, drilling, shaping, sanding, polishing, friction, and pressure. But when the process is complete the material has been transformed; it has new beauty, value, and purpose. Something of little value now has greater value, all because it endured a painful process! Life is full of difficulties and it easy to become overwhelmed. But there is a purpose behind each hardship; they are all part of a process to shape and mold us into some of greater value and purpose. My desire in writing this blog is to encourage and maybe stir up some conversation with the lessons that God has been teaching me through the painful process of life. Life is hard, but God is good. May He continue working His process in my life.

If you are going to read any of my posts be sure to ready "Introduction to Lessons from the Lathe". In that post I lay out the basis for all the other blogs.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dead Things Become New!

     My main objective in working at the lathe is to transform the material with which I am working into some thing new. English dictionary defines transformation as "a marked change in nature, form, or appearance."  I am not trying to make a better piece of wood; I am making something new!
     This may seem like a simple idea but, the material I work with must be dead before I can start to transform it. The piece of wood is dead. It is no longer connected to the tree, the sap no longer flows through it, and it no longer demonstrates signs of life such as bud, leaf, of fruit. The antler has been separated from the deer, either by the natural yearly growth process of antler, or by the death of the animal. The point is that I cannot work with living material. Can you picture a living tree or animal spinning on a lathe, especially a mini lathe like the one I use in pen making? It is silly and ridiculous to even consider such a thought, yet it is also a very basic truth. I will state it again, you cannot transform something that is still living into something completely new!
     This is the starting point in making sense in God's process of working in the life of an individual. God is not in the business of plastic surgery, a nip here and a tuck there. Nor is His purpose curative surgery, cutting away disease to bring about a better life. He is not about making good people better. His process is not about improvement; it is about transformation.
     The Bible clearly teaches that man, apart from God is dead; separated from the source of true life (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13.) True life, as God intended it to be, is one of a intimate relationship with Him. God originally created man in His image and they existed in close fellowship. But man choose to do the one thing God told him not to do, he ate the forbidden fruit, and immediately suffered a break in his relationship with God. In Genesis 3 God comes to walk with man, as He did from the moment that He had breathed life into man, and man was hiding! Why? The relationship had been broken by sin. I am not going to spend much time developing the theology of the holiness of God; books have been written on the subject. The only point about God's holiness that I will bring up is that, because of His holiness, God cannot tolerate sin. He can't even look on it! So there was the problem: God made man for relatoinship, man broke relationship, God cannot look on sin - there is no hope for restored relationship; it is dead! Romans tells us that all have sinned, miss the mark with God, and that the wages of sin is death. Titus 3:5 tells us that it is not by works of righteousness that we have done, not through our own efforts, that we are saved. That is the bad news. The good news is that Romans 6:23 goes on to say that even though we deserve death, God's gift is life. I love in Ephesians 2:4-5 where it says, "But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life ..." So what we could not do for ourselves God did for us! Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." The next verse says that "we are God's masterpiece"; He didn't make us His masterpiece until we accepted His grace through faith.
    This is an important point to grasp. In Matthew 5:3 Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Until I recognize that I am dead and until I admit my total inability to do anything about it, God cannot work.  I never understood the concept clearly until I began to work at the lathe. That dead piece of wood or antler with which  I am working contributes nothing to the process. It is the material with which I work. I cut it, I shape it; I make it into what I desire it to be. The materials only responsibility is to submit to the process of the craftsman.


  1. What a fabulous analogy, Scott. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. Amen, Scott! Thanks for sharing the good news of Jesus. How it's out of death that he makes new life. Certainly stands out this weekend of Holy Week, as we sit between Good Friday and Easter. Between his death and resurrection, which we share in by faith.