Readers of this blog know that pallets are the primary source of firewood on our camping trips. I collect discarded pallets for free firewood. I enjoy cutting up pallets and watching them blaze.
Most pallets I rescue are made out of untreated hardwood, although a few are pine, cedar, or fir. Pallets make great firewood because the boards are dry and well-seasoned. Standard pallet construction facilitates air getting to the burning boards, so pallets burn vigorously with especially good flames. Stacking them cross-wise makes a great bonfire.
(See Not Every Wife Would Climb Into a Dumpster… for more about firewood pallets with pictures.)
Of course many of the nails that hold the pallets together end up in the fire. After the wood has burned away from the nails, the heat of the fire makes them glow a beautiful strong bright orange.
The intense heat of the fire has another effect on the nails which I discovered this year. It removes their temper. After being heated to a red-hot glow in the fire and allowed to cool, the nails are much softer and easier to bend than nails pulled from the pallet before burning.
My wife has enjoyed using nails rescued the next day from the ashes to make artistic creations like mobiles. I pick the bigger ones out of the ashes and bend them into S-hooks which have many uses when camping.
Bending these nails for mobiles and S-hooks is much easier than using unfired nails for the same purpose. The S-hooks are still plenty strong.
In contemplating this, I saw a parallel with life.
Nails losing their temper in a fire is analogous to people being humbled through suffering. Yahweh sometimes uses suffering to remove stiff-necked pride. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the 6th century BC is a good example:
All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’ Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever. … Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:28-34, 37)
Baking iron nails in a fire till they glow red-hot softens them and destroys their temper. Likewise, Yahweh uses the trials, temptations, and stresses of life to bend His children into shape.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. … And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:18, 28)
So next time you are going through a trial, imagine yourself as a nail being heated in the fire. You are being “softened” so that the Creator can bend you into a more perfect instrument.
Questions to Ponder
- Think of a situation where you felt like a “fired nail.” How did it affect your character?
- What Scriptures have challenged you regarding the purpose of life’s trials and sufferings?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday July 8, 2015 A.D.
It is the Lord of hosts who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding He stretched out the heavens. (Jeremiah 51:15)