Some of my earliest memories are of my mum hand sewing – our family used to embroider the sailors’ jerseys for the Elder Dempster and Cunard lines, and as a tiny girl I learned how to thread the 2-ply white wool and use satin stitch to form the letters of ‘E.D.L.’ or ‘CUNARD’, since machines could not do this work with that thickness of wool fabric. No surprises then when, a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to fashion a cover for the sound system at church. I was given the dimensions, the rest was up to me. I chose the material, shaped out a pattern, worked out quantities, then got out the scissors and sewing machine and set to. On the last bit, I broke my last machine needle. Oh no! Prayer…hunt… found an old needle case belonging to my mother…and there were two ancient, rusty machine needles. But they did the job, and the cover fitted perfectly. Smile!
It’s a matter of having the right materials and tools for the job. That’s why God chose acacia wood for building the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-15). I thought it curious that he specified which wood to use, since it was going to be completely covered in gold. Who would know? Why did it matter? It turns out acacia wood grows in the harshest desert regions. So it grows slowly, and it grows hard. It also deposits waste substances into the wood as it grows so it is resistant to pests. That stuff has a hard time growing, but it is meant to last.
Ever wondered why you have had difficulties in your life? Why doesn’t God answer your prayer for an easy time? He means for you to last, to endure. Like the acacia tree, living through harsh experiences can make you put down deep roots. You learn how to cope. You learn how to withstand the attacks of the enemy. You grow strong. Then, he can entrust his Word to us, that we will cherish it and faithfully proclaim it – just as the Ark of the Covenant was a safe place for keeping the tablets of the Covenant. So don’t waste your difficulties. Ask God to help you use your pain to grow stronger in him, You are his workmanship, and he needs you to be the right material for the job.
An interesting fact I picked up in research, is that the wood pulp from the acacia tree produces the very strong but thin, lightweight paper used in bibles and dictionaries. So there’s a good chance your bible is made from it. He is still using acacia wood for housing his word!