Remember the tongue twister you learned once upon a time, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?" Of course, a woodchuck doesn't chuck wood but does chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt in the course of building a burrow. It follows then that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, he could chuck an amount equivalent to the weight of the dirt, or 700 pounds. BTW - Cecil Adams provided this answer on a website called The Straight Dope - A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge. I loved the byline - Fighting Ignorance Since 1973 (It's taking longer than we thought)!
Over Labor Day weekend I invented a new and memorable version of this tongue twister. It goes like this, "How much wood could a woodpecker peck if a woodpecker could peck wood?" Of course, woodpeckers DO peck wood and apparently, quite a bit, since I personally have seen hundreds of holes in just one redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) in California. The woodpecker's bill is very hard. He uses it to drill bark or wood for insect food or to excavate nesting cavitites. The redwood tree's soft bark is a perfect delight for woodpeckers and there is no shortage to drill since these beautiful trees often reach a height of 300 feet.
Picture this! It is Labor Day morning 2012 at Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center in the heart of redwood territory in California. Darryl is speaking to conferees gathered together for a time of worship and teaching. He is in the middle of explaining spiritual warfare and the theology behind Ephesians 6:12, which he says is the most disbelieved verse in the Bible, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (NASB).
Strange but true - a woodpecker began pecking on the roof of the conference center directly over Darryl's head. The rata-tat-tat was loud and persistent, but Darryl continued on undeterred! Soon it sounded like several woodpeckers were at work and the rata-tat-tats became impossible to ignore. Darryl stopped, looked at the roof acknowledging the noise, looked at the crowd and said with intensity, "If you stay focused on me, I will stay focused on the text!"
He was determined to not let this distraction stop him from communicating what the Enemy would not want shared. Interestingly, he had been encouraging the audience to remain undeterred in their faith and trust in God during times of trial and tribulation - to remain hopeful that God's purposes will not be thwarted. Thankfully, a few moments later, the drilling stopped completely!
As I reflect on the weekend, I realize I witnessed an illustration of God's strength displayed through human weakness or what I would call human inability to control the outcome of an impossible situation. This brings to mind 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NASB) which says, Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Darryl did his part as well as anyone could - and the part he had no control over - God stepped in to control. I can't explain the behavior of the woodpeckers - maybe it is one of those things you had to see (and hear) to believe - but I do know that God's purposes for the conference were NOT thwarted. He overpowered the powerful distractions of the Enemy! It is TRUE! He is strong when we are weak! His strength was made visible during our weekend in California!