Reclaimed Wood (Pain & Hope)
When I was 9 years old, I fell.
I was at the family farm in Iowa with my brothers, my best friends. One of our favorite games was running fast along the rugged wooden feed troughs which our grandfather used to feed the cattle. There seemed to be dozens of them, positioned end-to-end. To run the length of them we had to jump from one to the other and that’s when I tripped as I chased my brothers who were just ahead. I felt my foot catch something. I fell helplessly forward, arms outstretched as if somehow that would save me from injury. I landed belly down on the rough, weathered wood. Palms, wrists, elbows, stomach, knees. My lanky body turned red with fresh pain.
I arose sliver-covered and crying.
My brothers ran to help. The cattle were unmoved, barely raising their eyes to the calamity. Somehow I stumbled to the farmhouse on my own and I don’t remember how I covered the several hundred yards to grandma’s front door. Grandpa found his best tweezers and began the slow processing of removing the offending slivers one at a time. It seemed to take hours.
Rugged toothpicks littered my body. I will never forget it.
My grandparents and parents dosed me up on Tylenol and coated me with soothing ointment. Grandpa tried to extract the shards only because it made me feel better that he was doing something to help. In reality only the largest ones could be removed. Those hurt but it was the little ones that couldn’t be removed and were left behind that hurt more. I suppose they worked their way out of the scabby places over time. Our young bodies are resilient like that.
Oddly enough this memory comes back to me every spring, with Easter on the horizon. I feel tired and beaten up by winter. It is the season of the year that I am in desperate need of redemption and ready for cleansing.
I’m ready for somebody to remove the slivers of all my falls.
Ready for Easter.
It’s just before Easter each year that I remember the wood. I remember how Jesus first arrived, placed in a discarded wooden feed trough that had been relegated to a small barn, on rugged wood, slivers everywhere.
And how His earthly life ended as it had begun, lain upon rugged wood, nailed to a splintery rugged cross.
He got all slivered-up messy for us. From beginning to end.
And through it all, God whispers: “That messy manger where only livestock came for food? I sent Him to make it holy. Those planks of wood made in the shape of a cross that represented fear and death? My Son crawled onto them because He loves you. Both are now reclaimed and beautiful.”
This year, as every, I approach the shadow of the cross in my ripped jeans, with splinters still working themselves out from under my skin. And I ponder the slivers I still carry: unforgiveness, doubt, pain, fear. The splinters that make me feel deserted, isolated, forgotten, insignificant, abandoned, afraid, unworthy and forgotten.
Only in the shadow of Jesus’ rugged cross can they be removed.
Because the truth about these blue jeans I am wearing and the slivers from my falls? We are all bankrupt, bruised, barren, beside ourselves, betrayed, and betrayers. I start to remember that He strained under all of those slivers because of LOVE.
And I reflect. Do I willingly crawl into any circumstance with sacrificial love? Do I willingly strain under any load?
I try to move toward reclaimed wood. Slivers and all. To the only One who can remove them.
The One who took them for me.
Photo credits: Amy Breitmann
Amy Breitmann’s name means “Beloved” and she’s on a quest to believe it. Her boots carry Midwest soil but now she kicks it up in the south where she weaves marriage, ministry and motherhood together. Though she’s been a Christian as far as she can remember, her boots are covered with mud from her wanderings. As a cancer survivor, she was the Co-Founder of The Lydia Project, a ministry which holds hands with other women facing cancer. She also is a lost-sock finder, a keeper of secrets for the best cheesecake recipe, and gets grace in the ordinary. The words that tumble out on her blog Beloved in Blue Jeans are balm that the Spirit speaks to quiet her soul. She loves others to eavesdrop there and walk a bit of this cobbled path with her. She’s a Co-Visionary with Tammy, Facebook Team Editor, Big-Dreamer, and Writer. Find her on her blog by clicking here, or on Facebook or Twitter.