Potato Chip Plank by Laurie Herlich

Chisels and planer on a wood plank with curled shavings on top

Potato Chip Plank

by Laurie Herlich

“…and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit”

(John 15:2b, ESV).

Woodworkers sometimes find the wood resists conforming to their purpose. My skilled friend once sanded an enormous plank he intended to craft into a dining room table. Despite the material’s kiln-dried treatment, humidity had penetrated the wood grain. With long edges curling like a potato chip, the plank could not serve as an acceptable table. The solution required scoring long lines in the wood so the drier surface could ‘relax’ and lay flat. The craftsman could then fill the grooves with resin and sand the entire surface.

Our writing often resembles that wood plank. We labor over our novel, essay, or article to hone the message and massage the words. Like the carpenter who has sanded a table’s surface, we cherish the beauty of our work. When we submit the work for evaluation, editors point out flaws in need of refinishing.  We must then cut and refine our material to create an approved product.

Criticism stings. We dislike hearing that our long labors produced imperfect results. Deep cuts into the work we perceived as smooth trigger natural resistance in our hearts. The feedback seems as if it might whittle our efforts away. Yet we want to produce useful material for our readers.

As Christians, we face the same challenges in our discipleship journey. We pray and read our Bibles, but may occasionally receive counsel from more mature believers. These mid-course corrections alert us to blind spots in our faith practice. When we keep our hearts open to constructive feedback, we may find we become more useful to God.

The extra work will prove worthwhile. Refinement allows us to share blessings around a table, a book worth reading, and a life worth living.

Father God, we don’t look forward to being pruned, sanded, or whittled, but we want to be useful to you. Help us welcome the various ways you guide us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Laurie Herlich headshotLaurie Herlich loves living in rural northeast Tennessee, where Story is everything. She writes flash fiction and cozy mysteries in a converted garden hut situated in her backyard. Laurie is a regular contributor to www.christiandevotions.us and is a finalist for a Selah award in the online devotion category. She is also a contributor to Jonesborough, Tennessee’s StoryTown NPR Radio Show/Podcast, and is an apprentice with the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this. Very timely for me. Oh, and I think we’re almost neighbors! I live in the western part of North Carolina, just over the Tennessee border.

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