I grew up in Oregon. It is a rainy state, and we often used wood fires to keep the downstairs toasty warm during the winter. My dad would buy wood by the cord and store it below the upstairs deck. It was my job to keep the kindling box full. I would split pine wood logs that were about 5 inches in diameter into kindling that my dad said should less than 3/4″ square, to help get the fires started more quickly.
I was not a very athletic or coordinated child, so it was not one of the chores that I really looked forward to. However, one time after complaining to my dad about how difficult the chore was, he came down stairs and sharpened the hatchet I was using to split the wood. I was amazed how much easier it was to complete the task with a sharpened blade!
The writer of Ecclesiastes compares chopping wood to achieving success in life. “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.” -Eccl 10:10 [NKJ]. Increasing wisdom is one of the few legitimate shortcuts in life, because the more wisdom we achieve in life, the more effective we become in our work, in relationships, and in creating a good future for ourselves.
Wisdom gives the edge that brings success. But it also does something else, it helps us to realize what true success is. Success that is measured by God’s standards instead of man’s. Many of the things that we THINK will bring us happiness in life, are merely counterfeits for type of joy and fulfillment in life that only obedience to God can bring. As we engage the truths that we encounter along the path to wisdom, our perspectives are altered to the point that we begin to genuinely understand the flow of our lives and the purposes for which we have been made.