Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Becoming the Hammer

Last week, my husband taught three six and seven-year-old boys how to use a maul for chopping wood. The tool they attempted to lift weighed around twelve pounds and they weighed only forty or fifty, so they struggled through their task, but they also gloried in the result--a satisfying crack, then the clatter as the wood parted, and they stood tall in its aftermath. They had mastered a powerful tool and done something worthwhile with it. Had my husband given them a small axe, they would have eventually achieved the same practical result, but not the same satisfaction and accomplishment.

Tools figure large in most of our lives. Almost anything I put in my hand to accomplish a task is a tool--a pen, a can opener, a paintbrush, a broom, a hammer. Almost everyone uses a succession of them every day. They make our lives if not easier, then more efficient and, the more well designed and manufactured the tool, the better it can accomplish the task. As I use a tool, it becomes an extension of my own hands, acting at my will as a means to an end I have chosen.

God wants to use me as His tool:

Commit your way to the Lord. Trust Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.--Psalm 37:5-6

God wants me to give my ways to Him, to trust Him to use me for His own purposes. The Bible bursts with examples of how God did that with other men, from Moses and Abraham and David to the apostles and Paul. They placed themselves in God's hand and let Him wield them. Sometimes God wielded gently, administering succor and gentle healing. Sometimes, God wielded boldly, cutting down and weeding out, but both accomplished His purpose.

As sons and daughters of the New Testament, we tend to see our purpose most readily as mild tools, feeding and washing and administering sweet help to sad souls, and indeed, that is part of what we are called to do. However, there are times when God requires that we be used for harder work. He gave us armor for that, both offensive and defensive weapons, so that we are not ourselves destroyed in the process because these occasions tax us more heavily, but we cannot shrink from these uses, either.

As I step out, I need to know that God will use me today. I must feel the hand of the Master at my controls, and subordinate my power to His. I settle my will and it begins. He holds me in His hand and raises it. Only He knows whether it will soothe or correct. I can feel the backswing. I am ready.

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