I hoisted the ax over my head while fixing my eyes on the precise spot on the log I intended to hit. My right hand slid down the handle as gravity pulled the ax head downward. There was a loud ‘crack,’ then the log split evenly down the middle with each side falling in opposite directions. It doesn’t always happen, but when I split the log in one swing, it brings about a similar satisfaction as looking at a freshly mowed yard while the sweat drops down my forehead.

Seeing the Good

I find such manual labor therapeutic. A dark cloud lingers over me with each swing of the ax: worries about whether or not I’m leading my family closer to Jesus; concerns for the safety of a congregation as we slowly open during a pandemic; continued attacks by those who would seek to divide and destroy God’s church; and, how to navigate all these circumstances while dealing with my own weakness and sin.

Such thoughts can be overwhelming and leave me in a funk. I can easily walk about with a disposition of frustration, anger, bitterness, or sadness as I dwell on these very real issues. Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest because of the darkness.

However, each time I swung the ax, the Lord brought to my attention glimpses of his continued faithfulness and goodness. I could see two of my sons throwing the football while the other built a fort out of fallen branches. My daughter laughed with a loud cackle as she swung on our newly-built tire swing. A refreshing breeze cooled my face and sent yellow and red leaves drifting across the yard. These snapshots of God’s blessings in my life slowly pushed away the dark cloud surrounding me.

Deeper, Truer Realities

Being reminded of God’s continued goodness drew my heart to dwell on the deeper realities of God’s universe: his love toward a sinner like me that he would send his Son to die so I could be redeemed; the truth the God is still on his throne and is guiding the events of 2020 to his desired will; the encouraging reminder from his word that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18); and, the great reality that one day all that is evil and wrong in this world will be undone forever.

When circumstances are less than ideal, it’s easy to focus on all that’s wrong. However, the believer’s reality is that no matter the circumstances, we have reason to be thankful and walk in hope. This doesn’t mean glossing over or making light of dark realities, but it does remind us that these dark realities won’t last forever. Some days I’ll do better than others, but my goal is to keep my eyes on the goodness of the Lord and his continued faithfulness while I long for the place he has prepared for us. I’ll keep my eyes on his everyday blessings I often take for granted as I plod along each day, one ax swing at a time.