A couple of weeks before our trip to Chicago, I began the search for a decrepit North Carolina barn. Locating one is no problem – they seem to occupy every small farm in this area — but I needed one that was either collapsed, or that the owner wanted removed, so I could secure a trailer full of old oak barnwood to build furniture for our new office.
It’s a great story that will have to wait for another day, but after many failed attempts (including being swindled for a few bucks) Mark and I found ourselves at the end of a dead end gravel drive in Haw River, NC, talking to a sweet elderly woman about her glorious pile of aged barn wood.
She told us about her shed; it was about 100 years old by her recollection. Several paces downhill from us lay sections from one of the most massive trees I’ve ever seen. She gingerly led us down the hill to show us. The cut sections of the old oak lay on their side, yet rose up to my chin. She proudly noted, “I’ve counted the rings on this tree, but I stopped at 250.”
In a recent storm this magnificent tree fell, smashing her hundred-year-old shed, which proved unfortunate for the shed, but great for our office.
As Mark and I loaded the wide oak boards that were once a building, I couldn’t help but think of the trees that comprised this shed. They must have been 75-100 years old in 1900, when the shed was built.
Oh– imagine the stories these trees could tell! Did they spread shadows as small groups of farmers pestered the British for independence? Surely all of these trees waived good bye to NC boys, headed to places like Gettysburg and Antietam. Now they will show off their glory throughout our office.
I’m no historian, but it seems to me that there are the “whats” of history: the governor of NC, the rusted plow, the old trees, and the shed. But the “whats” find significance in the role they play in story.
It’s been over a week since the surgery. I’ve thought a lot about the “whats” of this event: the amazing doctors, the IV drips, the risks, the glossy boulevards and a prayer meeting.
But it is the story that has overwhelmed me, that God brought two people together, that someone for no personal gain could sacrificially give something to provide life for another, that fragile humans could rally around each other to try to rescue one who was failing.
Maybe the reason this story grips many of us is that it reminds us of the most compelling story in history, that One who created this world . . . every oak tree . . . every liver . . . every tribe and nation, for no personal gain, entered the story to sacrificially to provide life for another.
The “whats” in life are amazing, but if you live your life only noting the “whats,” you will not live.
It is story that captures our hearts, specifically the One who is the authors of all stories, the One “in whom we live, and move and have our being” (Acts 17).