The longest crack is 36 inches. There are a dozen or more in addition to that one. They streak across the surface of the coffee table lovingly made for me, by my husband, almost ten years ago. He crafted it with boards from the small farmhouse I grew up in, old even before I was born. We pried pieces of American Beech away from the corner that made up my room, before the bulldozer came to bury the house in the past.
(You can read the back story of this table and the cat who signed it by scrolling down to July 20, 2014.)
Once the table was finished and set inside, the laws of physics slowly took over. Boards, accustomed to high humidity and cooler weather, dried out in the heat of our home, expanding, cracking and adding new features to what was once a smooth surface, marred only by cat scratches.
My husband was devastated. The table he had designed, crafted by hand, inscribed with a sweet message to me on the underside was, in his eyes, ruined. This piece was more than furniture to him, it was a memory, a bit of my history and a love note all in one. It was a reminder of the times I climbed out of my corner window to gaze at the stars from the roof of the henhouse. It was the smell of lilacs that drifted into my room through the windows on a fresh, spring night. It was the very wall, that, though worn and drafty, sheltered and protected the little girl who would one day be his bride.
The time, effort and love put into that piece, made with an eye to perfection, was now, to him disfigured and imperfect; broken, a source to remind him of what he should have done: cured the wood before he crafted the table, finished both sides of the planks, instead of leaving the underside rough, designed and constructed it differently, with discreet spacers that would have accommodated expansion and limited cracking. For a long time, he couldn’t look at it without immediately looking away.
I too, was devastated. Cat scratches were bad enough. This was so much worse.
My husband did consider cutting out the cracked boards and remaking the table, but we decided against it.
The cracks remain, but the table still stands defiantly strong in the center of our living room. The border of wood my husband bonded around the edge serves to hold the cracked boards together. Withough that border running perpendicular to the inner planks, the table would have collapsed.
Bonded and held together
Inspite of the cracks, our coffee table is used and useful, not because of what it’s made of but because its maker designed it in a special way. It’s been a surface for chemistry and physics lessons during school co-op. It’s held cookies for Santa, pizza and popcorn for movie night, clutter from everyday. It’s had water spilled into the cracks, from tipped over vases of flowers. New scratches and nicks have crisscrossed the old cat scratches, which have actually taken on new meaning. They serve to remind me of Chloe and how much our girl loved her.
Our table has become more significant because of its character and story. In profound ways, it has come to symbolize not just where I came from, but also the journey that’s led to where we are now, individually, and as a family. The fact that the boundary holds it all together represents our faith in Jesus, for He has held us together in times of tragedy and sickness.
It’s also symbolic of the life journey we, who share this earth, are all part of. Jesus knew we would have trouble, as did He. His trouble was completely undeserved, but He chose to stay on task and endure the pain, separation and the disfigurement of sin that would cause His Father to look away. In the end, He overcame sin, restored the cracked relationship between us and God and establisehd a boundary for death, which guarantees us eternal life with the Father.
As a believer, you have the Spirit of the Overcomer bonded to you, suporting you, working through you and holding you together. God does this, not just because He loves you, but because He designed you in a special way and has a purpose for you: a purpose that needs the character that comes from the journey. A purpose that uses the cracks, regrets, tragedies and the illnesses to add depth, maturity, compassion and humility to the story that is your life.
satan wants you to focus on the cracks, and all you should have done, or all that’s been done to you. If he suceeds in that, then a collapse is inevitable. God wants you to focus on the purpose He has for you and the things He can do through you, because of the Spirit in you. There are people outside His family who need to see Jesus in YOUR words, YOUR care, YOUR touch, YOUR story. Imperfections, hurts and the living of life make stories painfully REAL…
…and God uses REAL to reach people.
You have a Designer, the God of the Universe, who loves you AND has given you a directive. Stay defiantly on task.
Pray that you will be used and useful. Open up to the plan He has for you: one that will unfold, not inspite of the cracks or because of the cracks, but in defiance of the cracks.
Our table, fulfilling the purpose for which it was made
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Romans 4:25- 5:5 (NIV) Italics, mine
“He (Jesus) was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”