And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
– Romans 8:28-29
I have had a handful of creative pursuits in my life. Some I have only scratched the surface with, like playing bass guitar, and others I have gone deeper with, like drawing, digital art, and pen and ink artwork. But no matter what the creative pursuit is or the level I try to reach with it, one thing is consistent in them all: I want to do them for God's glory!
That is the overarching goal I always want governing the motives behind everything I do. This desire for God’s glory is no different with my newest creative pursuit of woodworking.
Working with wood has been something I have dabbled in for several years now, and while I’ve never had all the tools or resources to seriously pursue any fine woodworking, I still love playing around with this natural material. I keep returning to it in awe of all the rich wonder and beauty God hides away within the trunks of his creation. So in an attempt to satisfy my desire to create with wood, I started trying to find something small that I could make, and also enjoy the process of making with limited resources. For some time I couldn’t nail anything down that I truly enjoyed, until an idea came from a very unlikely place.
Beauty from Broken
It was in September of 2014 that my wife and I’s marriage suffered great pain and brokenness. Life is messy, and ours was no exception. We didn’t know what was going to happen, we didn’t know if this shattered state of our lives could ever be put back together again. We didn’t have the strength to make it, but thankfully that is when Christ showed up, and was more than strong enough for us.
When God stepped in with a miraculous touch of grace, he began taking what was broken and started putting it back together again.
God opened our eyes to the truth that nothing in this world will ever satisfy us or make us whole. Only he can do that. He brought us to a point of seeing just how dead in our sin we were, and that we had no other hope but to grab hold of him, as if he was all we had. And that is what we did. We gave him everything. Ourselves, each other, and our marriage.
It was there, in that moment of feeling like you are sinking into the black depths of the ocean, that God reached down and pulled us up. We ran to him, leaving everything we had behind and finally found the freedom he offers. We found what true life really is and that it is only found in him.
It was in the months after our healing began and after my wife mentioned wanting a new wedding ring, that the question of ring making emerged. Could I make her a ring out of wood? With little to no research, I went out into the shop and found a dirty scrap piece of hardwood to try it on. I drilled a hole in it, and started cutting and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, and sanding, until I had shaped it into my first wooden ring. As I worked on it for many nights, the process of cutting, sanding, and shaping this old piece of wood began to take on new meaning to me. Here I was taking a scrap meant for the burn pile and making it something purposeful. Something beautiful. It was there in that process that I started to see the same process God was working in my life, in my wife’s life, and our life together.
That original ring making process was not easy and it certainly was not quick. It was difficult and trying, but it was not meaningless. The same could be said for the pain and healing in our marriage. With care and purpose, just like a craftsman, God was working to make something beautiful, he was working to make us more like him.
After that first ring, and all that it embodied for my wife and I, I felt I had found something I could make, enjoy, and would have purpose behind it. So I started researching wooden rings and refined my process into what it is now, making bentwood rings.
Each ring is a joy to make. I love what they mean to me, and I love what they can mean to others. The ones I make for my wife and I tell our story, and I make a new matching set for our anniversary each year. They are small monuments to us, reminding us of what God has done already, and what he continues to do in us and through us to make us more like Christ.
It is amazing! That as we fully surrender to God, he can and will make us what we were meant to be. He can take what is heading for the fire, and make it into a treasured reflection of himself. The process will be hard, maybe difficult to understand, and even painful at times, but making something that is beautiful is never a simple and easy process. However, it is one that is worth everything.
I don't know for sure what God has in store for me and ring making, but for now, it is my joyful little hobby of woodworking.
UPDATE: When I first wrote this article in June of 2017, I had no idea where God was going to lead me with making rings. Well, I now believe I have that answer. In the summer of 2018, I started a project called Made for Glory. It involves donating rings to those who want to remember what God has done in their lives and have a passion to share their stories of God's glory with others! You can read more about the project here: Made for Glory.