Friday, July 12, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 104: Renewed By Water

Key Text

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16 (KJV)


The blue mahoe tree (Hibiscus elatus*), also known as the majagua, is the national tree of Jamaica. This beautiful tropical tree has wide, round-shaped leaves and flowers that resemble a hibiscus. They come in lovely orange-red and yellow-orange shades. The bark is coarse and thick. It grows from 60 to 80 feet (18-25 m) tall. Because of its wide leaves this mighty tree provides ample shade from the hot tropical sun. It has a straight trunk and thick wide branches that are fantastic for climbing. This tree is indigenous to Cuba and Jamaica. The blue mahoe is popular as an ornamental tree because of its beauty and shade. It is also popular for its resources. The sub-layer of the bark is strong and fibrous for making rope. The wood is the most sought after part. The outer wood is light similar to pine. The inner section, known as the heartwood, is a grey-blue and contrasts sharply with the outer wood.

The beautiful colors of the wood make it a popular choice for building cabinets and furniture. The grain of the wood is very straight which makes it ideal for tool handles. It is very durable and resists moister damage and fungus growth.1 This makes it a perfect choice for axe handles. In Cuba it is also a popular wood for making baseball bats. Craftsmen are experts at selecting various woods for specific applications based on its properties. That is why they often use the blue mahoe for axe handles and baseball bats.2 It is strong enough to withstand the stresses of repeated impacts.

Any wood, no matter how strong, will deteriorate over time. Wood that is used as a tool handle will be treated very roughly. It will be used and abused. It may be left in the sun and rain. Over time it will dry and crack especially if it is not taken care of. It will get covered with dirt and grime so thick it may be hard to determine what type of wood it is. A good craftsman knows how to restore an old and battered tool handle. It does not matter how rough the surface or how many cracks, a true craftsman can restore a tool handle to its original beauty. There is a special process that must be followed.

The first step is to remove all the dirt and grime. Water and a little soap are used to wash away the hardened dirt and grime that has built up over years of use and abuse. Next, a course sandpaper is used to smooth out any damage or surface cracks. Then the deeper cracks are repaired with special filler putty and the whole thing is sanded with a fine sandpaper until it is as smooth and bright as when brand new. Finally, a sealer is applied to defend the wood against dirt and grime and to keep it from cracking.

This process of renewal is similar to the spiritual renewal Jesus offers. When you were created in the womb, God, the Great Craftsman, formed you for a special purpose. He gave you specific traits and talents suited to the plan he had for your life. Just like the blue mahoe is suited for axe handles because of its properties, you were suited to the plan God has for your life because of the properties he gave you. But at birth you entered a world filled with sin. You have been used and abused. You are filled with cracks and covered with dirt and grime. You no longer have a new shiny finish. But the Great Craftsman can restore you.

First, he will wash away all the old dirt and grime. This process happens inside the mind of each person that accepts him as Savior. He asks us to be publicly baptized by submersion in water as a symbol of the washing that is taking place on the inside. Then he will sand away the cracks and defects in our character. He will fill and repair any damage we have. This happens over a lifetime. Finally, he will seal his work so that no dirt or grime can mar his beautiful masterpiece.


Do you feel like you have been used and abused in this rough life?

Do you think there is something in your life that cannot be fixed?

Are you ready to ask God to begin this process in your life right now and then get baptized?

If you have already been baptized will you ask God to continue fixing the cracks and defects in your life until you are his masterpiece?


1.  Julissa Rohas-Sandoval, "Hibiscus Elantus (Blue Mahoe)", Invasive Species Compendium online, (September 27, 2018), accessed July 3, 2019 from

2.  Expert wood craftsman in interview with the author, June 26, 2019, Majagua Cuba.

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: David F. Garner (taken in Majagua, Cuba, 2019)

SDA Belief Series #15