The Gift of a Wooden Chain

A number of years ago, my father gave me a special gift that I still prize to this day. “Son, I want you to have this unique wooden chain,” he said. “It was hand carved out of a single piece of pine by my uncle, Chester Roth.”
 
Upon taking a closer look, one notices the intricacies of the links and how everything fits together in a continuous stream. It’s amazing! It’s probably not worth much monetarily, but it is of great value to me.
 
I knew Uncle Chester a little. Of course, my father knew him much better. In his youth, my dad would spend time working on Uncle Chester’s farm and watch how dedicated he was. Dad told me of a summer when Uncle Chester suffered an injury and his right arm was in a sling for a number of weeks. That’s the summer Uncle Chester carved the wooden chain. It’s even more amazing knowing that Uncle Chester was right-handed, so he had to carve the chain with his left!
 
Over the years I’ve thought much about what this chain represents. Here are some of my reflections, especially as they apply to God’s purposes for our lives.
 
Every link is important.
 
If one link breaks or becomes detached, the entire chain becomes useless. This demonstrates the value God places on each person in the body of Christ. Every one of us is important and brings something of value to His purposes in the world. A friend from high school recently told me that I played a key role in him giving his life to Christ in 1987. I’m honored to have been simply a link in his chain of coming to know Christ.
 
The chain itself has a purpose to accomplish.
 
If members of the body of Christ stay connected and learn to function well together, our heavenly Father can use us to accomplish His will in the world. I believe this applies to marriage and family life as well as to a local church or a ministry team. What the hook is attached to is extremely important.
 
In his Gospel, Jesus states unequivocally, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Based on this passage and others like it, the Bible clearly teaches that apart from Christ we can do nothing. So it is essential that I have and stay connected in a vital, growing relationship with Jesus.
 
The Scriptures also teach that with Christ all things are possible. The Gospel-writer Matthew writes, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’ “ (Matthew 19:26). Miracles aren’t hard at all for God! If we stay attached, we may not only witness miracles but be used in miracles as well.
 
The anchor represents hope.
 
Hope is a scarce commodity in our world today. People don’t see much hope when their focus is on a weak economy, unemployment, hurtful relationships, and the storms and trials of life. The apostle Paul reminds us of “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The author of Hebrews puts it this way, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). When we fix our eyes on Christ, we can have a firm and secure hope no matter what kinds of trials we go through.
 
The Master Craftsman gets the credit.
 
What I can accomplish in this life, whether great or small, doesn’t earn me eternal life. That’s a gift from the Master Craftsman by His grace as I hook my faith in Him. Paul says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). My life, connected to Christ and to others, then becomes a reflection of His love through the skills and abilities He gives me. God gets all the glory, which He alone richly deserves!
 
If you have a physical reminder of the hope you have in Christ, what is it? Are there other simple objects that remind you of other spiritual truths?
 
Bob Reusser directs the Nav Encore Mission of The Navigators. You can learn more about his ministry here.

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