I’m not sure that I get excited about anything in the world anymore. It’s not that I have done everything or experienced everything that I wanted or even have everything. It’s just that it’s different, totally different, once you are born again as a Christian and you know that Jesus is Lord and Saviour, everything else just pales into insignificance. Really.
That being said, a big pile of wood and a chainsaw does tend to bring a wry smile upon my face. The weather is still hot here in Central Portugal as we saunter into September. The forecast this week says we may hit 40 degrees again for a spell, but there is still the knowledge that around the corner, the temperatures will drop, the skies will turn grey and the rains will fall. We have only seen one shower in the last 4 months. So, I am getting the house prepared for the rains, I have this week been working up on the ladder completing the fitting of the rain gutters.
Batten down the hatches
The majority of houses in Portugal do not have any gutters or way to direct the rainwater, it’s just a case of “batten down the hatches”, shut up the window shutters and keep out of the rain if you can! There wasn’t any gutters on the house or garage here and with the house being on a hill, the rain over the years has washed away a lot of the surrounding ground so I have installed a drainage system connected to the guttering that takes all of the rain, underground then around the house and into a holding tank down the hill.
The other thing I have been doing is getting ready for the colder months by getting a load of wood delivered for the salamander fires. You can buy wood here very easily, most houses are still warmed by wood fires, it varies in cost, and you buy it by the ton. Already chopped, top quality timber all burnable size is €130 per ton, and you can move down the scale depending on what you want to the bottom, which is what I went for, at €40 per ton. For that, you get the thick trunks up to about 14 inches in diameter and bit of a mixture all between 7ft and 9ft long.
They take some wrestling about with to get them in the log cutting cradle, but I bought 2 tons for €80 which would have been €260 for the good stuff, I figure the saving is going to be worth the effort.
With the money saved I have already planned on putting that to good use, before I came out here I bought a cheap chainsaw in the UK for £70, which was a bit of a gamble with not being able to send it back if there was any issues. The reviews seemed to suggest this was unavoidable, and I have also bought the materials necessary to build a 2m x 6m wood store, to air and keep my newly chopped logs out of the elements. Not so long ago I built a wooden pergola with a bamboo sunshade roof, this is to get a new sloping, red aluminum roof to give me somewhere to sit outside that’s dry when the rain comes.
I also figured that it is going to be quite an arduous task, so I split it up over a few days, pulling out 12 logs at a time, then cutting them up. After a couple of hours it seemed that the pile had not been touched and the chopped wood pile looked tiny.
A friend had lent me their chainsaw, quite old but trusted by lumberjacks across the world, a Husqvarna 365, it stopped working after about 20 minutes. The Internet bought cheap Parker brand carried on buzzing away through the thick timber trunks of eucalyptus and maritime pine. The chain tensioner slips quite easily so I must stop maybe every 15 minutes to undo the two retaining nuts and adjust the tension of the chain, then tighten them up and on we go again.
The aroma of freshly cut pine is an absolute invigorating joy to the senses as the warm breeze carries it softly down the valley. Over the course of the week, interspersed with other tasks both the guttering and the wood chopping are complete. Some of the thick trunks are cut down to a more manageable size of around one metre, these will be stacked, stored and allowed to air, then recut as and when necessary, the wood store will be built this coming week when the other materials arrive. Incidentally, the cheap chainsaw didn’t miss a beat, 2 tonnes of timber cut, I am pleased with it.
Carrying out God’s instructions
During this time spent cutting the timber, preparing for the rain my thoughts are directed to the bible about the flood in Genesis. We all know the story of “Noah’s Ark”, and that it tells of a man who was told by God to build an enormous boat, much to the bemusement of anyone who knew him and saw this wooden behemoth, even those who had any respect for Noah fell about laughing. There wasn’t an ocean, a sea or even a river anywhere nearby to mention, but regardless of what was going on around him, he stuck to the task that God had instructed him to do. Indeed, what a task it was, 300 cubits long, which is estimated to be around 500 feet and other scholars agree that it took Noah between 50 and 75 years to build the Ark. But he did this to strict design instructions from God, it is also agreed that it would be thousands of years before any ship was built in comparative size but what is startling is that the dimensions used are now agreed by super tanker shipbuilding designers that this was a forerunner of ship design today.
The Lord shut them in
And there in the middle of God’s blueprint, in Genesis 6:16 as the bible tells us, that he was to set a door at the side of the ark. From this door, only those that God decrees through His covenant could enter, Noah and his family, and all the animals that the Lord God commanded. From there, when God told Noah, the ark was loaded through the solitary door. Genesis 7:13-16 tells us, “On the very same day Noah and Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, went into the ark, they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.”
Believe on Him
We know from the bible that God brought a flood that covered the earth and only those on the ark survived, but look, they all went through the solitary door that God designed, on the one side is death, and on the other is a new life.
That same dividing line is still here in the present day, and it is absolutely God’s design and solitary door, but the solitary door is Jesus Christ, on the one side is this life that we now live in, whether good, bad or indifferent, it makes no difference, it leads to the ignominy of certain death, what people know as hell, on the other side of the door is eternal life with God and Jesus, what people know as heaven, and the Only way to heaven is through the door of Jesus Christ. It is believing on Him who died on the cross for All of our sins, it is faith and repentance from breaking God’s laws, that gets us through that door, not good works or any other way whatsoever.
Now that is something that gets me excited, talking about salvation and the only way to heaven, I pray for you, that if you are reading this and do not know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, that you pray to God and ask for His forgiveness and you repent and turn from your ways and put all of your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You don’t want to be the wrong side of the door when the rain comes.