Young Tom was in second year at his secondary school. He was finding it a tough year.
He had failed to get into the school football team and so dedicated himself to his studies, only to be overlooked at the end of the year prizegiving.
It was particularly demoralising for Tom that pupils who didn’t seem to work hard at all were being recognised and he received nothing.
Tom’s grandfather saw his grandson was hurting – so he decided to do something to try and help.
One afternoon after school, he went over to Tom’s house and handed him a paper bag, telling him there was a gift inside for him.
Tom’s mood lifted at this kind act from his grandfather. However, his joy soon turned to anger when he saw what was inside the bag – it was a block of wood!
‘What’s this?” thought Tom. ‘Some kind of sick joke? I was feeling bad enough as it was without having my hopes raised with the promise of a present, only to be given a piece of useless wood.’
But then his grandfather handed him a piece of paper with an address on it and said to Tom: “Take your piece of wood to this address, they are expecting you.”
Two hours later, Tom returned home with a beaming smile on his face.
His grandfather was waiting for him.
The address Tom had been sent to was an art studio – and with the help of one of the artists there, Tom had been helped to chisel and chip away at his block of wood until, two hours later, he returned home with his block of wood transformed into a beautiful carving of a human face.
Tom was ever so pleased with and proud of it.
His grandfather then sat him down and said: “With the help of a skilful carver, that block of wood has been slowly chipped and chiselled into a beautiful, smooth wood carving.”
He then continued: “Tom – you are like that block of wood. Throughout your life, God is going to keep chipping away slowly, slowly – but all for the purpose of making you into something beautiful.
“Now getting bits chiselled off us in life can be very uncomfortable and painful – but God can use all these things to help us to learn to deal with disappointment and to make us into better, more beautiful people.”
His grandfather then pulled out his Bible and read from James 1:2-4: “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.
“For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
“So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
(Based on a story – ‘Tell me the Secrets’ by Max Lucado)