Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stretching - M. Laycock

The Yukon autumn was sliding into winter as my friends and I sipped coffee and stared out the window of our warm log home at the heavy frost on the ground. The conversation turned to the subject of wood. Firewood. We all admitted our woodpiles weren’t quite as high as they could be. We all knew what minus 60 was like, that our stoves would deplete the store of fuel in no time.

Then Anne mentioned a local sawmill was giving away slab wood. The slabs were mostly bark with only an inch or two of wood, but they were dry and made great kindling. Enough of them would be a welcome and needed addition to the stock of wood in our yards. But we also knew our husbands’ jobs left no daylight hours to haul wood. It was Barb who said, “So it’s up to us.” I was the last to agree. I knew how heavy our chainsaw was, having run it once or twice. The idea of spending a whole day running it didn’t appeal to me. But my friends assured me we could do it. Barb rented the truck, Anne packed the lunch and I prayed.

A few days later I found myself staring at our saw as my husband sharpened the chain and explained how to avoid stalling it. For most of that night I considered how I might get out of this adventure, but the next day the first crack of light found me and my two friends stacking slabs on the deck of a five-ton truck. As the pile grew, we took turns climbing on top to trim the ends on the far side. My arms, already aching from tossing the slabs, shook as I leaned over and tried not to think of falling off with a roaring chainsaw in my hands. But the pile slowly grew until the three of us, dirty, exhausted, but smiling, stood back and surveyed the stack of wood, piled as high as it could go on the back of that truck.

The sun was setting and the temperature dropping as we drove home. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on our husbands’ faces when we arrived with that loaded truck. The knowledge that we had made a significant contribution to the comfort of our families that winter made all of us smile. The episode had been a stretch for me, but the accomplishment made me realize with the Lord’s help I was capable of more than I had thought. It felt good.

I once heard a challenging sermon about stretching. “It’s in stretching that faith grows,” the pastor said. “It’s in stretching that we learn to rely on God’s grace.”

Stretching your faith might mean letting go of something you’ve been worrying about. It might mean reconciling with someone who has offended you. It might just mean attending a Bible study group for the first time. It might mean writing a poem or an article even though you’re a fiction writer. It might mean starting that first novel, or hitting the send button to put your words out there for the world to read.

Maybe you’re thinking the same thoughts I did the night before my wood hauling expedition – “I don’t think I can do it.” Maybe you’re right, but God’s grace can do it through you. So pray. Then go ahead and stretch.

Marcia Laycock is a pastor's wife and mother of three grown daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone, and has published two devotional books, Spur of the Moment, and Focused Reflections. Visit her website -


  1. That would be a major stretch for me too, Marcia. I admire your tenacity. As you say, stretching grows our faith. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wow! You're my hero. A chainsaw is HEAVY! Thanks for sharing your stretch.

  3. Well I think you are amazing! Just the sound of the chainsaw has me running for cover!
    But I agree with the lesson- stretching is good, and through God's grace anything is possible!

  4. I once sang the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant. After the annunciation, Mary asks how she can have a child, since she is a virgin. The answer came back, "with God nothing shall be impossible." I've recalled that line many times when faced with a task I considered too big for me.
    Good for you for getting in that firewood.

  5. Marcia, thanks for your insightful and inspiring post :-) The next time I'm in situation a where I'm thinking 'I can't do this...' I'll remember you with the chainsaw.

  6. I'm late in reading this because of packing and travelling. Yet the timing for me was perfect. I can relate to this story so well. How often I have wondered why on earth I've stepped so far out of my comfort zone and wished I hadn't. Then when the experience is over, I realise, "THAT'S why!"

    Like right now - sitting alone in a hotel room in Orlando, thousands of miles from my home in South Africa. Way out of my comfort zone. Hopefully, in a week's time, I'll say "THAT'S why!"

    Thanks for a good message, Marcia