The Yukon autumn was sliding into winter as my friends and I sipped coffee and stared out the window of our warm log home at the heavy frost on the ground. The conversation turned to the subject of wood. Firewood. We all admitted our woodpiles weren’t quite as high as they could be. We all knew what minus 60 was like, that our stoves would deplete the store of fuel in no time.
Then Anne mentioned a local sawmill was giving away slab wood. The slabs were mostly bark with only an inch or two of wood, but they were dry and made great kindling. Enough of them would be a welcome and needed addition to the stock of wood in our yards. But we also knew our husbands’ jobs left no daylight hours to haul wood.
It was Barb who said, “So it’s up to us.” I was the last to agree. I knew how heavy our chainsaw was, having run it once or twice. The idea of spending a whole day running it didn’t appeal to me. But my friends assured me we could do it. Barb rented the truck; Anne packed the lunch; I brought the coffee and snacks. And I prayed.
A few days later I found myself staring at our saw as my husband sharpened the chain and explained how to avoid stalling it. For most of that night I considered how I might get out of this adventure, but the next day the first crack of light found me and my two friends stacking slabs on the deck of a five-ton truck.
As the pile grew, we took turns climbing on top to trim the ends on the far side. My arms, already aching from tossing the slabs, shook as I leaned over and tried not to think of falling off with a roaring chainsaw in my hands. But the pile slowly grew until the three of us, dirty, exhausted, but smiling, stood back and surveyed the stack of wood, piled as high as it could go on the back of that five-ton.
The sun was setting and the temperature dropping as we drove home. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on our husbands’ faces when we arrived with that load of wood. The knowledge that we had made a significant contribution to the comfort of our families that winter made all of us smile. The episode had been a stretch for me, but the accomplishment made me realize with the Lord’s help I was capable of more than I had thought. It felt good.
I once heard a challenging sermon about stretching. “It’s in stretching that faith grows,” the pastor said. “It’s in stretching that we learn to rely on God’s grace.”
Stretching your faith might mean letting go of something you’ve been worrying about. It might mean reconciling with someone who has offended you. It might just mean attending a Bible study group for the first time. It might mean writing a poem or an article even though you’re a fiction writer. It might mean starting that first novel, or hitting the send button to put your words out there for the world to read.
Maybe you’re thinking the same thoughts I did the night before my wood hauling expedition – “I don’t think I can do it.” Maybe you’re right, but God’s grace can do it through you. So pray. Then go ahead and stretch.