Have you ever visited a leather factory? A friend of mine took me to one that his family jointly owned with another family. The factory had been in business for more than one hundred years, and it looked it!
They had a massive warehouse where raw cow hides were unloaded from rail cars. From there hides were thrown into pits of lye and stirred with giant wooden paddles to get the hair off the hides before the hides went through the other gruesome manufacturing steps.
The stench was nearly unbearable. Every process was labor-intensive and probably hadn’t changed since the factory opened. Finally, we walked up a long, ancient, wooden staircase.
When my friend opened the door it was like I had been transported to Italy in the 18th century. The massive room was staffed by Italian leather artisans.
Italian was spoken as fluently as English, perhaps more so. All of the carnage, stench, and crudeness had produced the leather canvases upon which these masters of their trade created leather products for some of the highest-end fashion houses. It was a marvel to behold.
As with leather, the beauty of God’s abiding love was made available by gruesomeness. For the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross was profoundly gruesome. But God’s great sacrifice has secured us. As the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
With such a clarion decree will we still cry out, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38 NIV) I hope not. Rather, let us rest in Jesus, not as a lazy guy on hot summer’s day, but as a craftsman, “who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)