Bumps on logs intrigue me. To be technical immediately, these bumps are burls. Find them on limbs and trunks of trees. Burls are formed from changes in the growth hormones of the tree. These changes occur from a number of factors. They originate from bacteria, a virus, a fungus, or even an insect.  The most common bacteria responsible for most burls is the crown gall bacterium. Scientists have discovered that crown gall bacterium carries with it extra DNA identified as plasmid. It causes the tree to produce extra amino acids and new growth regulators which cause the burl to grow. The burl appears be the preferred habitat for the bacterium. It is remarkable that the bacterium which begins the burl has usually disappeared long before the burl becomes large.

DSC_0066_1553sigA burl on a log appears useless. It does not move, its inactive, it breaks the uniformity of the tree trunk or limb on which it grows. On the outside is seems useless. The surface appearance of a burl does not fit the contour of the trunk or limb it grows on.  A derogatory statement about people relates to the burl. Know that being referred to as a “bump on a log” is not positive. It means you are not contributing, even worthless. Being a bump on a log suggests a laziness of heart, mind or body. There are few times in life when being a bump/burl on a log is a good thing.

Yet, the dense wood of burls may have great value to woodworkers. The wood grain found in burls is twisted and contorted. Its deformed nature creates a grain woodworkers call “figure.” Normally grained wood generally follows parallel lines. The grain of a burl is comparable to a ball of twine, twisted and wrapped together. Beautifully crafted pieces of art, furniture and sculpture are created from tree burls. Large burls have significant value. Because of this, the theft of burls on trees in parks and private property occurs. While a burl remains on the tree there is little damage. When a burl is removed disease is more likely to follow.

Burls teach us a spiritual lesson. Humans get burls. You can not see them on the outside as on trees. Inside every human there are “burls”. We are born with them. They are not benign. In trees burls are caused by bacteria. The bacteria in humans is sin. It is not a topic any of us enjoy being reminded of. Human burls cause jealousy, envy, striving and contention with others. Human burls are the cause of wars, murder, and sorrow and grief of all kinds. Whether we are willing to acknowledge sin in the life of every human, it exists. It is the unseen “burl.” In contrast to tree burls, human sin is deadly. Unless sin is dealt with sin in the life of a human condemns all to righteous judgement-from God.

Sin “burls” in the human heart are terminal.

Just as a burl can be turned into something of beautiful by a skilled carpenter, there is a way to turn the burl of sin to something beautiful, something perfect. All it takes is a Master. Jesus is that Master. As a boy and young man, he learned to work with wood. He was a carpenter. I have a friend who calls Jesus “the big carpenter.”  We do not need his carpentry skills here. The sacrificial death of this Carpenter gives every human who believes in him permanent “burl” removal. The blood of Jesus cleans the “burl causing bacteria” of sin from every human. The Psalmist knew how to be cleaned of sin. In Psalm 51:2 we read, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Only Jesus, “the Big Carpenter” can do that. He takes our sinful burls and turns them into a beautiful work of art, a human no longer sentenced to death, but cleaned of sin.