When I left off describing the stage of the Coram Deo carving, I mentioned it had been stained, glued and mostly finished. I buffed the whole thing, although I left the leaf a little rough partly to help it stand out from the background (sort of like a flat finish against a gloss finish) and partly because leaves are not perfectly smooth and I assume people will want to touch the carving. Then I gave it a final coat of tung oil and left it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off. A couple of hours of drying time and another bit of buffing and the carving was ready for delivery.
As I said yesterday, Peter told me the story behind the reason they requested the carving in the first place. It’s a very heartwarming story and gave me a lot of joy to become part of the story as the woodcarver. I’ll tell you the story now.
Peter’s wife was born to a single-mother in South Africa in an era when people didn’t talk about such things happening – it was all “hush hush”. Fortunately she was adopted by a wonderful Christian family who raised her as their own. A few years ago, she was able to find and make contact with her birth mother who had converted to Christianity herself, and through a visit to South Africa, Facebook and Skype, text messaging etc., the two of them developed a good friendship. She now considers herself to have a Mom who raised her and a mother who she is good friends with. God has been good to them and they felt blessed to have been able to connect in this way. Her birth mother also has a family now and who have welcomed their “new” sister with open arms.
Very recently, there has been a new twist to the story. Peter’s wife was able to find and make contact with her birth father too. This was a little more of a touchy situation, as he had remarried and had his own family who knew nothing about his first child. In a twist of grace, he and his family had all become Christians as well, and he felt that he could tell them, although it would take some time and prayers for wisdom. In due time, he told the family, who received the news quite well. They embraced the idea of having another sister with open arms also. Peter’s wife found herself with quite the large extended family.
Now Peter’s wife has the chance to go to South Africa to meet her birth father for the first time, and she has just landed there this afternoon. I can only imagine the butterflies that must be in her stomach as she meets her father at the airport. The whole story is an example of God’s redeeming power and grace, taking what could have been a very messy situation and turning it into something wonderful. Peter and his wife wanted to take a gift to her birth father that would say something about this. It needed to be a little bit of Canadiana because that’s where she lives now, and it needed to carry the message of God’s grace over them all. This is where the phrase “Coram Deo” came in.
Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that strictly interpreted means “In the presence of God” but as RC Sproule says, it carries the big idea of the Christian life, which is to live as though God is near us and we are in his presence,living under God’s authority and for his glory. It is to live a principled life, a humble life that is open before God.
It strikes me that this new family is experiencing a new life precisely because they have chosen and been called to live Coram Deo lives. And I have been blessed to be the one asked to carve this “icon” of grace – a symbol of this good news story.
Soli Deo Gloria.