Speaking Truth in love. Grace. Love. These are the last few seasons I have been in. God takes our rough edges and polishes them until they are smooth. We must be refined.
I went to Hawaii for my honeymoon and was drawn to the artisans. Something about the culture grabbed me and my mind longed for the slower pace. We spent hours strolling and chatting with local artists. It was good for the soul. It was good for MY soul. I escaped into the stories of each piece of art and secretly longed to be the creator. The variety of mediums was intriguing but my man and I were drawn over and over to the simplest of forms, wood, specifically Koa wood. We saw furniture, frames, bowls, instruments, paddles and even jewelry made from this silky wood. Koa is a hard, strong wood but when carved and polished appears as if it were made of satin ribbons. A finished Koa piece is so smooth it almost is soft.
Near the end of our adventure and after viewing and touching what seemed like hundreds of Koa items, we decided a Koa cutting board would be welcomed into our home. It seemed practical yet beautiful and with in the budget. (I really wanted a canoe paddle, but that is why I was blessed with a sensible husband—one paddle, no water, no boat, small suitcase…his list went on.)
Seventeen years later this cutting board still hangs in my kitchen. Let me clarify hang, hang meaning it hangs out, getting shuffled here and there. It is not allowed to be used. It is be to admired. At one point it hung on the wall and another time it rested behind the cooktop. It has collected dust and even a burn mark but the color, feel and memory never fade.
Koa means warrior.
The interesting thing about Koa wood is that it doesn’t need a lot of finishing. How can a warrior need minimal finishing?
Funny thing, that last question was meant to be a place marker. I had been writing and came to complete stand still stuck on that question. (Since my writings are typically short, I sit down and write until the thought or story is finished, so this was not how I operate.) When I closed my computer last Friday my husband inquired how it was going, we smiled sharing the memory and I explained how I was confused. He assured me I would figure it out.
I have been pondering this question for 5 days now. It has had me stumped. I began to wonder if this lesson was not a lesson for me and just a lovely memory.
How can a warrior need minimal finishing?
And then the connection came. Dishes will have to wait. I need to write.
God knows that I take time to process things. Apparently, I needed to do some heart work and forgiveness in this season before I could make sense of this.
How can a warrior need minimal finishing?
Warriors are strong and require little finishing or refinement because
The strongest of WARRIORS ARE BORN.
A warrior can not be created in refinement instead it is who they are. The flowering Koa tree, Acacia Koa, is strong and beautiful inside and out. God created it this way. The other interesting fact about the Koa is that it is the second most common tree in Hawaii. It is not unique in it’s area. It is surrounded by other warrior trees.
In each season, I am challenged and tested. I prefer to be called a hands on learner as opposed to trial and error and error and error learner so I must be challenged to truly learn. Each time, the challenge hurts and I swear, sometimes literally- don’t hate me, that I am going to quit, that I am done. This is usually followed by me putting myself to bed early which everyone is thankful for. I must admit, this technique does not always work well. The sleep is restless and I loose control of my thoughts. Finally, I cry out to God for help. Help me see. Help me learn. Help me know. Help me understand. I open my Bible, pray lots and call someone wiser than me.
Clarity and peace finally appear. I breathe deep because I know I’ve made it to the other side. I did not quit, almost did but didn’t quit. Peace comes when you do not quit. Warriors do not quit. You have to make it through the challenge to get the reward. A friend recently taught me that blessings and burden go hand in hand, like pregnancy and babies— burden and blessings. The challenge is the burden. The peace and joy are the blessing.
I am strong. I am brave. I am a warrior.
Each challenge refines me. The grind of the sandpaper is uncomfortable for everyone. I cringe at the thought of the grit. It is hard on the sander and hard on the sanded but it must be done. If we leave the product unfinished splinters will incur. If we leave it unfinished, it will still be strong and beautiful to those who recognize strength and quality but if we finish it, if we refine it, there is no denying it’s beauty and strength. It reflects light and depth.
Koa means brave, bold, fearless or warrior.
I am these things. I learn it in each new season. I know I am not alone. Warriors are surrounded by warriors. You are a warrior friend. You were made strong. You are beautiful inside and out. Join me in these seasons of refining so we can be equipped and shine better than ever. Fight with me fellow warriors.
Fight for your marriages. Fight for your children. Fight for your friends. Fight for your peace. Fight for your health. Fight for your faith. Fight for your joy. Fight for the least of these. Fight for the love of God to reach everyone you know.
Grace and Peace.
“God-of-the-Angel-Armies will step in and take care of his flock, the people of Judah. He’ll revive their spirits, make them proud to be on God’s side. God will use them in his work of rebuilding, use them as foundations and pillars, Use them as tools and instruments, use them to oversee his work. They’ll be a workforce to be proud of, working as one, their heads held high, striding through swamps and mud, Courageous and vigorous because God is with them, undeterred by the world’s thugs. I’ll put muscle in the people of Judah; I’ll save the people of Joseph. I know their pain and will make them good as new. They’ll get a fresh start, as if nothing had ever happened. And why? Because I am their very own God, I’ll do what needs to be done for them. The people of Ephraim will befamous, their lives brimming with joy. Their children will get in on it, too – oh, let them feel blessed by God! I’ll whistle and they’ll all come running. I’ve set them free – oh, how they’ll flourish! Even though I scattered them to the far corners of earth, they’ll remember me in the faraway places. They’ll keep the story alive in their children, and they will come back. I’ll bring them back from the Egyptian west and round them up from the Assyrian east. I’ll bring them back to sweet Gilead, back to leafy Lebanon. Every square foot of land will be marked by homecoming. They’ll sail through troubled seas, brush aside brash ocean waves. Roaring rivers will turn to a trickle. Gaudy Assyria will be stripped bare, bully Egypt exposed as a fraud. But my people – oh, I’ll make them strong, God-strong! and they’ll live my way.” God says so.”
-Zechariah 10:3-12 (The Message)