Growing up in a rural farming community I soon learned the significant role that wood played in our life. Wood was a four season task – cutting the trees down in the winter and splitting the logs, stacking the wood in late spring/early summer into piles, letting the wood dry over the summer, retrieving the wood from the woods via tractor and wagon in the fall and putting it into a shed so it could stay dry, and then retrieving the wood armful by armful on a daily basis throughout the winter. Fortunately for me as the baby of the family we installed a gas furnace when I was in fourth grade and so my wood carrying days were cut shorter than my siblings time of service, much to their chagrin!
It struck me that I am still in the “wood business” in Christian education, as are many of you who are reading this. John Piper’s word picture is helpful: “The fuel of worship is the truth of God; the furnace of worship is the spirit of man; and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, contrition, trust, gratitude, and joy. But there is something missing from this picture. There is furnace, fuel, and heat, but no fire. The fuel of truth in the furnace of our spirit does not automatically produce the heat of worship. There must be ignition and fire. This is the Holy Spirit.” Desiring God, p.82.
We help students to discover truth and discover the greatness of God through the study of creation and his word – all truth is God’s truth. As educators we engage students on this journey of discovery and link learning to the Creator and his intentions for us. When we grow weary of our stacking (and wonder if the wood will ever burn) we need to remember that our job is to stack, not light the fire. We may not see the fire lit in our lifetime, but need to be faithful to our work. Our family faithfully, and in hopes of a warm fire, cut, stacked, transported, and readied wood – in anticipation of the match to light it. However the match also needed the wood to burn for a long time. I guess that in Christian education our call is to stack wood – we cannot predict when the Spirit lights lives on fire, but we seek to point out God’s truth to students so that, when lit by the Spirit, their lives burn brightly and with great warmth as they obediently worship and work for the kingdom.