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The reach of the axe

Those axemen can really make a dent. The announcer at the famous St Helen’s Woodchop event in Tasmania said that one blow of the axe can reach a depth of eight inches. Eight inches! That tingled the hairs on the back of my neck. Equipped with a black hood, all the boys in the woodchop could have easily qualified for the job of royal executioner in the days of the old English kings.

But impressive as the axemen are, with their solid shoulders and gleaming blades, the Book reminds me that something can penetrate to an even greater depth. It says that the blade of God’s Word can reach to the depth in our hearts where our true motives lie, and can reveal whether they are God-directed or self-centred. The text is in the fourth of Hebrews which says that the Word of God can ‘judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’.

That’s why it’s dangerous to read the Word of God. And that’s why it’s absolutely necessary to read the Word of God. For the heart is capable of great self-deception, and shows enormous capacity and creativity for producing a spiritual pericardium that is multi-layered and opaque. But God’s Word can cut through the misty strata and lay bare our real thoughts and desires. All a bit alarming, until we appreciate that the great Axeman’s hands are full of good intentions, and can swing the blade with precision and love.

DM 9th February 2016

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