Elmer Warford running the saw at the Warford Sawmill Elmer Warford running the saw at the Warford Sawmill

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8

In the 1940s Elmer Warford (my grandfather) and his brother, Aud Warford, ran a sawmill that supplied much of the lumber for the Lonsdale Community in Saline County, Arkansas.  Elmer used to tell me that Aud was the brains of the operation.  Aud was quick minded and was especially good with numbers. Aud ran the business and kept the books. Elmer worked the mill and kept the saw running. Elmer Warford is at the controls in this picture and as you can see from studying this photograph the mill was very crude. The entire process was driven by the engine of a model T ford.

In the 1960s when I was a kid I remember Papaw and Aud talking and telling stories about the mill. I remember them laughing about a time when after Aud got through paying all the workers and their bills they had three cents left over to split. Elmer would grin and say, “now three cents was a whole lot more money back then that it is now.”

When Papaw was younger he talked of the Warford Mill as if it was a failure but as he got older his perspective changed.  With age he came too looked back on the days of the Warford Mill with pride. The last time we talked about the mill he spoke of it as a success, not because the mill made money, it never made much. The source of Elmer’s pride were the homes and barns built throughout the community with the rough cut lumber from the Warford Mill. For years after the mill closed he could drive around the community and see evidence of the impact the mill had on the lives of many people.  Just as important, during very hard times, that simple sawmill managed to feed the Warford families and the families of other men that worked in the small logging industry the mill created.

We will never achieve God’s omnipotent view of our situation but maturity can broaden our perspective enough so that we may see our disappointments in a different light. Whatever the day may bring we can be sure God is still on His throne.

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