Chapter 15 – At the Woodcutter’s

Then they all got up, ready to continue their journey through the forest. As they went, Amsiggel told them the Woodcutter’s ideas: “He looks at the stars and sees in them the glory of their Creator. He looks at the hot sun and the rushing river and sees in them his power. He looks at the flowers of the forest and sees that God appreciates beauty. He looks at the insects of the earth and sees they were made with great wisdom. But he has the idea that our Creator has abandoned us and no longer takes any notice of us.” They kept walking until eventually they reached the Woodcutter’s house. Amsiggel called out to him, but no one answered! He knocked on the door, but there was no one there! As they sat down to rest a boy walked through the trees, so they asked him, “Have you seen the Woodcutter?” “No,” he replied. Amsiggel enquired, “Will he be away all day, or is he coming back sometime?” “Only he knows his own business!” replied the boy. No sooner had he said this than they heard footsteps coming through the trees, and the Woodcutter appeared.

He was delighted, and having exchanged warm greetings with Amsiggel and Tazzwit he said, “I recognized your voice in the distance when you called, and as soon as I heard it I came to welcome you and your companions. Come on all of you into the house.” He brought some figs and grapes, and when they had all sat down, Faithful said, “This Woodcutter has shown us something very important. He heard Amsiggel’s voice and came straightaway, without delaying a moment, because Amsiggel is a special friend. And he invited us in too because we’re Amsiggel’s companions. He looked round at them all, then said: “That’s what God does. Whenever we call to him in our Saviour’s name, he hears us and welcomes us straightaway, because the one who brought us to him is specially dear to him.”

“I know there is a Creator who made mankind,” said the Woodcutter, “but he’s far away now, in the highest heaven, and he’s left us here below in this world where each of us must stick up for himself.” Faithful took him by the hand. “Look at the birds in the sky,” he said, “They don’t plough or reap or gather the harvest into barns, but their Creator gives them all they need. And look at the flowers of the forest: they’re dressed better than Solomon in the majesty of his kingdom. That’s because a father will never leave his children to fend for themselves: he’ll look after them and see to all their needs. If we ourselves do that much for our own offspring, won’t our Father in heaven do more for us than we do for our own children?” Then Faithful said to him, “God wants us always to tell him about our concerns and our needs. His word says, ‘Ask of God and he’ll give to you; seek from him and you’ll find; knock on his door and he’ll open it to you.’“

The Woodcutter was doubtful. “Do you think God really looks after us like a father who loves his children?,” he said, “But wouldn’t someone who cares for his children protect them from all that makes them cry?” “That’s exactly what’s happened,” replied Faithful, “Our Saviour came and took away all that frightens and intimidates us. He’s filled our hearts with peace and hope.” “We really thank God for that,” said Amsiggel, and all the others said, “Amen! Amen!” The Woodcutter was surprised: “Do you all believe in this Saviour?” he asked. The Hermit said, “He came to remove the terrible blight from this world.” The Old Woman said, “He’s brought us into the safe refuge.” The Nomad said, “He’s shown us how to obtain God’s favour.” The new Hamu said, “He’s changed bad people into good in the sight of God and man.” The Blacksmith said, “He’s paid the debt we owed.” His brother said, “He’s made peace between us and God so we need not fear the Day of Judgment.”

“Now we have all these things, just as our brothers have said,” affirmed Faithful, “but in a future time there will be more than this, because God’s wisdom and power that made this world will make a new world after it. This old world will be annihilated with fire, and another will be formed, full of all that’s good and beautiful. Nowadays people call our Saviour ‘Lord of the Hour’ because he’s going to return at the end of the age and raise the dead and take them into new life. He himself said, ‘Don’t be surprised at this, because the hour will come when all who are in the graves will hear my voice, and then they will come forth.’ He’ll separate those who believe in him from everyone else, and take those who are his to share in the life which is much better than the life of this world.”

“But how will those who’ve died get up out of the ground?” asked the Woodcutter, “Doesn’t the body return to dust? So how will it get up?” “Well, consider what happens to charcoal,” replied Faithful, “This piece of charcoal was once a stick of wood. Pick it up and tap it, and it disintegrates. But if you bury this charcoal in the ground, it will never rot or spoil. Leave it for five years, summer and winter, and it will remain exactly the same. Now, tell me, what has entered into the charcoal to make it imperishable?” “Fire has gone into it,” replied the Woodcutter, “and changed it into charcoal.” “But what is fire?” asked Faithful, “We know fire destroys all it touches, yet it has made this piece of wood indestructible. This is one of the wonders of the Lord God. And if he can do such a thing in this Age of the Blight, won’t he be able to do much more when he makes all things new? He’ll change this weak body that dies into a strong body that lasts forever. He’ll transform this earthly body into a body fit for heaven.”

“What you’ve said is true,” agreed the Woodcutter, “because I’ve seen it in the creatures of the forest. Like the tadpole that’s black and swims in the water, then gets bigger and grows legs and becomes a green frog that jumps on dry land. Or like a caterpillar with many legs that eats leaves of grass, and then becomes a butterfly that drinks from flowers and flies in the sky. If God is able to change the body of the insects, it won’t be difficult for him to change our human bodies too.” Then the Woodcutter added, “All this can be clearly seen by one who looks, but if you’d not come I would never have known its meaning.” “We should thank God,” said Faithful, “because he’s shown us the truth as it really is.”

So they all raised their voices and sang, “Praise God because he’s good: he always acts with steadfast love.” They spent some days with the Woodcutter, then set out again on the track leading to the village of Amsiggel and Tazzwit. He went with them.