“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets."
But, when it comes right down to the heart of the matter there is something even better: a man that is committed to living out the sum of all that is written in the Scriptures. In a nutshell, a man that whole-heartedly loves God and his neighbour. This man knows his duty is to live according to the royal law, the law of love.
Twenty-five years ago, or maybe closer to thirty, there was a single woman raising her children on her own. I have no other details. I don't know why she was single. Perhaps she was grieving the loss of her husband or experiencing guilt or shame for life choices she had made.
I don't know how she managed to care for her children, or if she was even able to feed them nutritious meals. I wonder how she survived her days if money was tight or how she braved her nights when dreams were tormenting. I don't know if Loneliness was her lousy companion, or if she chose to rise above her circumstances, but I hope she lived believing she was called Beloved.
I could act as a good reporter and dig up all the lurid details, or write up a sensational story about this woman's life, but it's not the specifics that make this particular story so heart-wrenchingly beautiful. This story is not about the status of a person, rather it's the way some people loved with hearts that beat in time to the King of love.
All I know is that she needed help. She needed fire-wood to keep her children and her own self warm one cold Canadian winter. And there was a small group of men and women who had a deep desire to pour out God's love by helping those in need in their little backwoods community. They knew the importance of treating their neighbour just as they themselves would desire to be treated.
Men and women who met together to pray and sing praise to their Saviour, break bread at the Lord's Supper, and listen to the teaching of Biblical truths every week, also met together one winter's day in the bush. They hauled axes over their shoulders, tromped deep into the wood, and with all their heart and all their strength, cut right through logs. Men of dust, bent their knees down low, did back-breaking humble work with their feet planted firmly on the forest humus, and split wood for a woman.
The man who owned the bush, I've been told, was a quiet man, so he may not have had words to offer, but he gave what he had.
The man of few words gave his wood.
It started an annual tradition and it became known as the "Bush Party".
Years later, however, it didn't seem appropriate to call an annual church gathering a 'bush party' so it was re-named. In 2014, at the event now called the "Snow Ball", wood-splitting was brought back in the form of a good old-fashioned competition. After roasting hot dogs on an open fire, axes fell on ash logs, and the champion was determined by the man who split his log into six pieces with the least number of swings. Crack after crack, the excitement in the competition grew, and laughter and cheers echoed off still standing trees.
A golden axe was presented to the champ who had split his log with 5 strategic arches of the axe, cutting through the air and chopping that frozen log into firewood.
I have a feeling that this first annual wood-splitting contest won't be remembered in another thirty years in quite the same way as that year almost three decades ago when love was shown to a neighbour in the splitting and sharing of wood.
Yes, of course, it may be a small honour to have your name on a golden axe, but it's of great value to live out what has come to be known as the golden rule of Christ.
Not all of us will handle an axe, or have wood to give away, but "whatever you want people to do for you, do the same for them."
Next year, I hear, there will be more logs ready for another competition, and another name added to the golden axe. Perhaps another generation of men and women who meet together on Sundays and desire to live the golden rule, will gather in the same bush and split wood for another neighbour in need.
For when we live our days according to the Golden Rule of the King of Love the Light shines on in the darkest night.