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The Art of Maple Sugaring Compared to the Discipleship Process

When it comes to syrup, there's a reason the real stuff is pricy. Through a slow and painstaking process, the traditional Native American art of maple sugaring takes large quantities of an essentially useless substance and turns it into something worth stretching your grocery budget to buy.

First, the workers venture deep into the woods—called the "sugar bush"—and use hand drills to make small holes in the trunks of maple trees. A metal tube called a "spile" is tapped into each hole, and a bucket is hung on each spile. The sap that begins to drip into the buckets is thin and clear, like water, with only a hint of sweetness. On a good day, 50 trees will yield 30 - 40 gallons of sap.

As the buckets fill, they are emptied into large kettles that sit over an open fire. The sap comes to a slow boil. As it boils, its water content is reduced and its sugars are concentrated. Hours later, it has developed a rich flavor and golden-brown color. Then it must be strained several times to remove impurities before being reheated, bottled, and graded for quality. The end product of those 30 - 40 gallons of sap? One gallon of maple syrup. No wonder it's so expensive!

When we came to Christ, like raw, unfinished sap, we could have been tossed aside as worthless. But God knew what he could make of us. He sought and found us, and his skillful hands are transforming us into something precious, sweet and useful. The long and often painful refining process brings forth a pure, genuine disciple easily distinguished from cheap imitations.

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