Dead Skin, Live Timber

You cannot serve Christ except by and in Him.

Do not present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

  - Romans 6.13

“Ah, dearly beloved son, why didst thou go on thy journey without taking counsel with me? For the country which thou are seeking from God, ye will never find on these dead soft skins, for it is a holy consecrated land...”

  - Anonymous, Vita Brendani, Irish, 12th century

Brendan’s (fl. ca. 560 AD) first voyage – which he and his companions undertook in boats made with the skins of animals – ended in failure. They were unable to reach their desired destination, the Promised Land of the Saints, and returned to Ireland disappointed. Ita, Brendan’s foster-mother, counseled him to build boats from living timber, not dead soft skins, because he could never enter the Promised Land of the Saints in such vessels.

Brendan’s story is part history, part allegory. It is meant to teach us how to enter the presence of God and to know the fullness of His promises and to share in the victories of the saints who have gone before – not in dead soft skins of our fleshly endeavors, be they ever so courageous or demanding, but in the living timber of Christ and His cross and righteousness.

Many believers seem to be somewhat disappointed in their experience of walking with the Savior. Or, if not disappointed, then too easily satisfied.

At least, they don’t demonstrate the righteousness or appear to be marked by the peace and joy of the Spirit, which are the hallmarks of the Kingdom of God (Rom. 14.17, 18). Worse, they’re OK with that.

There can be no full and abundant life in Christ, no basking in and growing into the exceeding great and precious promises of the Lord, as long as we try to hold on to the old lives from which Jesus has delivered us, or as long as we only undertake for Jesus in ways that are comfortable to our bodily strength and abilities.

We must enter into Him, into His death and resurrection, into His indwelling Spirit, into obedience to His Law and Word, into prayer and fasting, into the daily ordeal of working out our salvation with fear and trembling. We cannot continue to offer our lives up to the practice of sin, or to complacency of faith, and know the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore that are to be had at the right hand of God (Ps. 16.11).

Here is a call for repentance, revival, submission, vision, discipline, and Kingdom seeking and exertion. We were not saved in order to be comfortable, and certainly not merely to continue in the “soft flesh” ways we indulged before Christ claimed us for His Kingdom.

Take up the timber of Christ, beloved – His cross (dying to self) and His strength (undertaking beyond your natural abilities or experience). You will share in the promises and victories of the saints of old when Jesus is your destination, vessel, and strength.

Psalm 42.6-8 (Nettleton: “Come Thou Fount”)
Oh my God, soul is weary, therefore I remember You.
Let Your grace and goodness near be, and Your promise ever true.
Lord, when trials and fears surround me, Your commands will be my song;
When distresses sore confound me, Your great love will keep me strong.

Show me where I need to turn from the world and seek You more earnestly, Lord.

At The Fellowship

We hope you’ll visit the website and check out the many informative columns, free downloads, and other resources and opportunities available there. Please tell your friends about The Fellowship of Ailbe. We are seeking to nurture a strong Community of like-minded friends who will join us in learning from the Lord and our Celtic Christian forebears how we can work together for revival, renewal, and awakening in our day. We are preparing some new resources to aid you, the members of The Ailbe Community, in your daily walk with the Lord. I’ll have more to say about these over the next couple of weeks. For now, stay tuned, and encourage others to sign-up to receive Crosfigell three times a week and Voices Together every day. Pray for us, and if you can share with us from the Lord’s resources, we will rejoice in Him for your gifts.

T. M. Moore, Principal
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore