Rita trudged down the driveway, silently cursing the late blast of winter and all that it entailed. The snow was up to her knees and the wind stabbed through her, carrying away her breath and any trace of warmth. She kicked at a snow drift that blocked the barn door and grumbled at the clods that found their way into her boots and soaked her socks. Finally she was able to pry the door open wide enough to slip inside.
The grim reality of the depleted woodpile made her whimper out loud. Why hadn’t Matt made this a higher priority before he left? True, he hadn’t predicted this snowstorm any more than she had, but he still should’ve left a better stockpile for his two-week absence. What an inconvenience!
Rita rubbed her gloved hands together while she contemplated her options. She could ignore the woodstove, turn up the furnace, and let Matt deal with the higher oil bill when he got home. Or she could attempt to split some of the large logs that were stacked in the corner. She didn’t know how long they’d been sitting there. They were probably too dry to split easily. Maybe she could just hack enough axe marks in them to make it look like she’d tried and then go in and turn up the furnace.
“No, I can do this,” she declared. “I am woman!”
But as she tried to roll the first log into the middle of the room, her confidence drained away. That log was heavy. She talked herself into continuing, but as soon as the log was in place, she had to sit down and catch her breath.
“I can do this…I just don’t want to. Matt could’ve had the whole job done in the time it’s taken me to just move this log. Why should I have to go to all this trouble?”
Enough pouting. She was determined to get it done and over with. She traded her gloves for the axe and lined up for the first whack. The axehead landed with a thud in the middle of the log – not exactly where she was aiming, but close enough. She pried it out of the wood and took a second swing. She hit four inches away from her first mark.
“This could take a while,” she muttered.
After several more swings, the axe finally made an impressive crack in the log. It took three more tries to hit the same crack again, but she finally split off a chunk of wood that would fit nicely in the fireplace.
Rita paused for a moment, surprised to find that she was sweating and breathing rather heavily. She peeled off her coat and tossed it to the side before resuming her task. Her stance and her swing soon felt comfortable and she found that she was hitting her mark quite consistently. She settled into a steady rhythm, and by the time an hour had passed, she had stacked enough split wood to heat the house for two or three more days.
With an air of triumph, Rita carried several armloads of wood up to the house and stacked them neatly by the back door. She was energized by the afternoon’s exertion and even looked forward to working out her sore muscles by chopping more wood the next day. She felt almost euphoric with the pride of her accomplishment. She was even grateful that Matt’s absence had forced her to stretch herself in this way.
And so it is, when comes a task
That God gives me to do
“Why me, Lord?” I dare to ask
“It’s easier for You.”
But when I choose to just obey
And do as I am told
Then I will find that I can say,
“I’ve been refined, as gold.”
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