Wood is a pretty interesting material when you stop to think about it. You can cut it, put it in water, let it sit out, make it curve and for the most part, it lasts. Again, this is just one of the many awesome creations God made in his infinite creativity. I guess it should be no surprise Jesus trained under a carpenter prior to launching his ministry of salvation. I’ve always wondered why.
I am not claiming to know the divine answer to that question, but if I were allowed to be a bit creative and take a stab at it, I would have to say that we are a lot like wood. Some of us like extremely warm climates, others can bear through the cold, some of us have to be chiseled, while others tend to bend when they need to. All in all, we are a lot like the wood commonly used to build anything from a house to a boat. Pretty interesting when you stop to think about it.
One of my fascinations has always been the large wooden colonial ships. The engineering that went into it and the commerce that was opened as a result of these long distance carriers is amazing. I often wondered how the wood on the ship lasted as long as it did. When doing some research on this ADD thought, I discovered that the bottom of the boat that stayed under water was usually in great shape, primarily because it stayed underwater. The part above the water stayed in pretty good shape because it was, well above the water. The part of the boat which suffered was the area between.
Think of a ship’s hull and separate it into three parts. You would have the top part (above the water), the bottom part (below the water), and the middle. The middle portion would be the part of the boat that would sometimes be under the water and sometimes be above. This could be the result of waves, tide changes, weight of the ship, etc. This constant exposure to the two different environments often caused splitting of the wood. It is thought the phrase “bottom out” came from the deterioration of this section of the boat. Of course, God began working on my with this concept.
If you stop to think about it, the parable of the seeds talks about the different types of soil of our hearts. Similarly, we can use the above reference to describe the types of believers there are in the world, using a very broad stroke of the brush.
The Top (Above Water)
These could be characterized as the doers, the ones who are seen throughout the church living on mission. They enjoy their activities, but truthfully, there is not a lot of depth to them. They can give you the great Christian cliches like, “God will never bring you to it unless he can bring you through it.” Or, “we are saved by grace.” Or better, “I’m blessed, thanks for asking.” Now, all of these are true statements, but you know the type I’m talking about. There’s no depth! They like their masks and their activities, but at the end of the day, they’re just not getting it.
The Bottom (Below Water)
Have you ever met a believer that was so in tune with God’s word they simply just wowed everyone they spoke with. I’m not talking about those who can quote the entire book of Romans from memory, but rather, those who seek and find God in every little circumstance in life. The more you get to know them, the peace and understanding they have is a direct result of the amount of time they spend in the throne room of God, face down.
I once knew a guy like this. He was younger than me but man he showed me up. He was forever in the Word or just being still before God. It was more like a habit for him versus a scheduled appointment. Anyway, he had some of the most profound one liners that you could tell you had just been smacked by the Holy Spirit.
One example was a time when he and I were running late for a meeting. We had to go up two flights of stairs and I had decided I was going to take two at a time to his one right after the other approach. I got to the top before he did and through my panting told him to hurry up. He told me,
“You know, sometimes God wants us to just take one step at a time and trust him, rather than rushing to get to the top. If you think about it, we both got to the top, but your short cut would up hurting you in the end.”
With that he just walked away! Yeah, I’m sitting there completely floored by such a statement, and he thinks nothing of it. What was the best part about his statement was that it was an answer to a question I had asked God in prayer the night before. This guy was so entrenched with the Word and walking so closely with God, he was used daily without even knowing it. Now that’s a deep hull!
Where it Cracks
The part of the ship where it cracks is a result of going in and out of two different environments is a lot like those of us who tend to bounce between the two worlds. One minute they’re completely immersed in God’s word, walking closely with him and the next minute they’re just doing church. There are numerous verses referring to the dangerous effects of swaying back and forth.
Ephesians 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
If you find yourself in this predicament, be careful of the warnings from Scripture. Dig deeper into God’s word and surround yourself more with people who are deep versus those who just like to seem like they are. The truth is, the bible is clear about its sanctifying nature and it will expose the cracks in your life. It is not to be seen as a negative thing because God tells us He desires us to be in close union with him.
So, chances are if you’re reading this you consider yourself to be a Christian, the question is which part of the boat are you on?
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About the Writer:
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.
As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses. This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.