Wood, Hay, & Straw

Illustration: Who would think a hay bale could be so dangerous? Let me explain. This morning on the drive south, traffic was doing between 65-75 mph, and heading south towards the city. All seemed normal. Finally we neared the merge of 575 with 75S. Suddenly, the drivers in front of me hit their brakes, swerved right, then left, and some crossed several lanes—all in an instant. Brake lights. Horns. In short, it appeared we were all about to be involved in big pileup on the interstate at the I75-575 merge. Why? Some hay bales had fallen from a truck bed and littered the interstate. Hay was blowing everywhere due to the draughts of wind from vehicles zooming past. I swerved, too, just like the other drivers, trying to navigate through the hay blowing across five lanes of morning traffic. And just as quickly as it happened, it was over. I had made it through. I caught my breath. I felt my chest relax. I felt suddenly super-spiritual, like God had shaken me by the shoulder and called my name.  

Connection to Scripture: I cannot get the image of hay out of my mind. It blew across the interstate this morning and it continues to blow across my imagination still. Paul used the image of hay (wood, hay, and stubble in the older English translations) to describe how insubstantial our lives are if not built upon truth and Christ as the foundation. Here is the way Paul put it:

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Cor 3:11-15, ESV).  

Encouragement: Traffic was shaken in an instant. Many pulses, I dare say, raced this morning. Mine certainly did. Verses of Scripture came to my mind instantly: “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas 4:14) and one of my favorites that Peter adopts from Isaiah:

For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Pt 1:24-25).

It is easy for us to forget, but our days are numbered. May we know the truth, live the truth, proclaim the truth, because it is truth alone that sets sinners free. All else is wood, hay, and straw.

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