Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Knot, Knot, Knot on Wood

Author: Susan L. Prince

The past few days I have spent on my knees.  No, not in prayer, although I was very mindful of God during this little project, especially when I noticed the knots in the wood of the deck I was applying water sealer to.

I walk around on the deck feeling the smooth wood beneath my bare feet, spend time at the table reading newspapers, drinking coffee and doing Bible study, often by candlelight and the light given off from the flame of the tiki lamps.  I've had the deck for two years now and it is one of the best investments I have ever made.

One of my really favorite things to do is lie on the wood once it is heated by the sun.  I love it!  I don't know why, it is just something I enjoy doing.

One night I even decided to sleep on it and I did!  Katie did, too, for part of the night, even though she made for herself a contraption of netting to protect herself from bugs and whatnot.   I braved the elements, just me and my bag and "woo pillow".

I've really learned to enjoy my deck and want to protect it so it will last as long as possible.  I applied water sealer to it shortly after it was built and figured it was time for another application.  This time I was more meticulous about the process and noticed something that fascinated me.

I saw the knots.  

The first time I sealed the deck I used a pressure sprayer, so I stood above the wood, spraying it with sealant.  Today, I used a brush and applied the sealant by hand, therefore it required me to be on my knees, brushing over every single surface of the deck.  Because I was so much closer and literally going over every inch of the wood, I really took notice of the knots.

Knots are the bases of branches that died, broke off, and then were covered over as the tree grew.  Knots are considered imperfections, because in the timber world, they reduce the strength of the wood.  They often appear darker in color, and I think, add character to a piece of wood.  Today they added immensely to my day out in the sun, working on the deck.

I noticed the detail of the grain of the wood.  With my brush, I would follow the grain, then come upon a knot.  The grain of the wood where the knot was, changes.  The grain takes a turn around the knot and sometimes the grain changes direction a whole 90 degrees.

I started thinking about the fact that those were once branches on a healthy, living and growing tree.  I looked at the different planks of wood that were placed together to form the floor of the deck and saw that each plank had varying wood grain and texture from the next.  The knots were all in different places, too.

Reminded of John 15:2, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful," I looked at a knot and studied it.  I considered for a moment that it was a scar in the tree that was now a plank of wood on my deck.  The branch that had been growing there was weak, or for whatever reason, it fell off, and the tree continued to grow, "swallowing" up that hole that was left, filled it with resin, and went on with life, growing stronger and stronger as time went on, producing whatever fruit is was designed to produce.  The branch that had been a hindrance to that tree producing good fruit was cut off. 

There are knots in my life.  The areas of my life that have been weak, or ways of thinking that were destructive, have been pruned away by God.  He is able to reveal to me through my prayer life, fellow believers, His Word and circumstances, where these hindrances and things that produce rotten fruit are. He cuts them off, so I can continue to grow in Him and therefore produce good fruit. 

I was also thinking about how these "knots", or scars, remain in me, although often hidden from view.  I am grateful for those "knots" so I can remember not to go that way again, producing rotten fruit.  

I am glad I have knots, and like the knots in the wood I was examining today as I brushed over it, I was able to see the beauty in the imperfections.  Every piece of wood is astonishingly beautiful in its own way, and the knots make it that much more appealing to me.  I was able to see the strength in the weakness.  Something else occurred to me as I pondered; that my brothers and sisters in the Lord all have knots.  

Just like the wood grain and texture was different in each plank of wood, we are all different.  We grow spiritually at different paces, we are pruned for various things and our knots form, but He continues growing us to produce good fruit.  When we are put together, like the planks of wood on my deck, we are a beautiful piece of work that the world can see as His Church, and behold as the glory of the Lord. Knots and all!