Several weekends ago, when our local school system had their winter break, we went camping with another family. We all love camping and riding mountain bikes, and were looking forward to a weekend away. High Falls State Park is where we camped to be close to Daucet Trails, which has an extensive bike trail system where we could log as many miles on our bike as we wished.

For me, some of the greatest memories made while camping is sitting around the campfire. There’s just something so relaxing about the cracking of the wood, the flickering of the flames against the night, and my personal favorite, the opportunity to roast marshmallows for s’mores. Also, it was still cold that weekend, so to stay outside for longer periods, a campfire was necessary. When we parked our camper onto our assigned spot, my husband, Brandon, spotted a log that would be perfect for a long campfire, and he pointed it out straightaway.

The fellow dad that went with us, Michael, is a wood-worker and sells hand-carved wooden spoons. He turns downed trees into the most beautiful creations. Whenever we go camping in big groups, we always marvel at how all the kids end up around him when he’s starting a spoon project and everyone ends up carving something of some sort. It’s like a contagious hobby! He brings tools with him wherever he goes, as you never know when you may come across a log or downed tree that would make a gorgeous spoon.

On Saturday, when Brandon showed Michael the log, Michael asked Brandon if he wanted to split it for firewood, since he had brought tools to do so. Brandon was grateful for the use of his steel wedge and hammer to make the split happen. There was one rule: “don’t lose the wedge in the log.”

After getting set up, the work began. It seemed like it was going to be fast work, as the log started to make splitting sounds with each hit of the wedge. All the cracking sounds made one believe it was going to be split in two momentarily, so Brandon kept hitting the wedge. That was until it was driven so deep into the log that it couldn’t be hit anymore. The wedge was lost in the log.

You have to look very closely to see the steel wedge within the log.

Michael, filled with grace, just smiled, almost as if he knew it was going to happen, while Brandon went to work on a Plan B to rescue the tool from the log. He used a hatchet to chip away slowly, but surely, to expose the wedge. It looked like one could just reach in there and grab it, but to no avail. It was driven into the log in such a way that it was embedded. It was really something to see. Meanwhile, Michael crafted a wooden wedge to help with the extraction rescue, which was the catalyst in getting the steel wedge out. This caused the log to split and after all that work and almost an hour later, we had a roaring fire going.

The wedge being driven deeper into the log caused it to splitter and crack, preparing for it to be torn in two. This is what the bible warns about what a root of bitterness can do and what it does in me when I try to hold on to a grudge, instead of forgiving freely.

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” To me, the wedge represented that root of bitterness. Once it was driven so deep into the log, you could hardly see it. In fact, I would not have known it was in there had I not seen it for myself.

This is what bitterness does in us. We can drive it so deep inside us that it is unnoticeable on the outside, but on the inside it’s tearing us apart. We feel it in whatever we do, as it won’t go away until we deal with it and eradicate it by offering forgiveness freely.

The good news is that we have help in the forgiveness department. Not only do we have it modeled for us in that Jesus forgives us in our sin, but as a believer in Jesus Christ, one has the help of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

I was so thankful for this incredible visual lesson. I would have never imagined the steel wedge could be embedded as it was in the log. I also was shocked that the log could make all those splitting sounds without popping apart. It was like an object lesson for the term “root of bitterness”, which is why I wanted to share. It really resonated with me, and I hope it does to you too.

Dear Jesus, please let all bitterness, wrath, anger, and slander be put away from me, along with all malice. Help me to be kind to others, tenderhearted, and forgive others, as God through you forgave me. I pray that I do not fail to obtain your grace in that no root of bitterness would be found in me to spring up and cause trouble, defiling myself and others. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your forgiveness and grace in my life. I am in awe of you and how you forgive and love, please help me to behave as you do. I am so grateful for your work in my life and I want to live as you desire that I do so. Amen.