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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Drive the nail home!

A water pitcher has a spout for a reason.  It is designed to pour out the contents it holds.  If you face the spout toward an object and pour, it forms a little "funnel-like" stream which hits the spot.  Who pours into your life?  Go ahead - really think about those in your circle who "pour into" your life.  You are likely to discover there are a lot more who have "spout" of your life turned toward them!  They take from you, expecting you to pour into their lives, without any thought of ever pouring into yours.  If you are as fortunate as I have been, there is always some individual who seems to be able to pour into my life just when I need it.  

The words of the wise prod us to live well.  They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.  They are given by God, the one Shepherd.  (Ecclesiastes 12:11 MSG)

I have often shared things a friend says which spark some introspection on my part.  Without even knowing, the friend "pours into" my life - words of life, words of conviction, and words of hope.  The faithfulness of my friend's "pouring out" is a blessing to me.  What do the words of a faithful friend do in our lives?  As our writer illustrates, they "prod" us to live well, hold life together, and are really words from God, just spoken with a human voice.

When something is "prodded", it is being "awakened" or "aroused" to do something.  As a kid, I used to travel through the desert surrounding my home, looking for holes and burrows.  It was my greatest joy to "prod" something within those holes to life!  I was overjoyed to see a small critter scamper out and look at me with their big eyes, wondering who had just awakened them from their slumber.  Sometimes, we need a little "prodding" to get out of some "slumber" of sorts.  It is often the faithfulness of a friend's words - sometimes encouraging, other times a little convicting - which cause us to arouse from our place of complacency.

Looking at how Solomon described the faithful words of a wise friend, he used an illustration common to the people of his time.  Nails hammered home - the work of the carpenter.  The purpose of the nail is to "hold something together".  It is a fastener, is it not?  The words of a wise friend actually may be a little "sharp" at times, huh?  Just like the nail has a sharp point, their words may seem a little sharp at times.  Ever try driving a dull nail into wood?  It just doesn't cut a path to its destination!  The dullness of the nail cannot drive past the resistance of the wood.  No matter how much "hammering" is done, the nail just cannot get past the point of resistance.  Just as there is a purpose in the nail having two sides - pointed and flat - the words of a wise friend have two sides.  One side cuts through the resistance of our selfish pride and the other is available to be continually "tapped" by the Master Carpenter (Jesus)!

Nails hold things together.  An apt illustration of the wisdom of a friend, spoken into our lives at the right moment.  When we waiver, drift off-course, or are just in a slump better known as a "pity party", the words of a faithful friend can actually "bring together" the pieces of our life in an ordered fashion.  They not only "pull together" the individual pieces, but they "hold" them together.  If you have ever made anything with wood, you will realize the importance of this concept.  You cannot just put this end of wood to the next, nail them together and expect them to hold up under the pressures exerted upon them!  There is some sense of order in bringing the pieces together and "where" the nails are driven.  A faithful friend actually sees the order in which the pieces are fit together and is able to know exactly "where" and "when" the wood is readied for nail to be driven.  When driven home, the "firmness" produced is awesomely strong!

A faithful friend - who can find one?  In looking for a faithful friend, do you scout for a person who is willing to be the "nail-driver" God calls them to be?  My friend often sees my blog and says, "I was another object lesson for you!" To that I can only say, "You betcha!"  The words sparked a little thought, the Lord did the rest.  When you are surrounded by the wise, the pieces come together.  When fools speak into your life, the pieces just make a mess of a woodpile!  Woodpiles are only good for gathering creepy-crawly creatures like spiders, ants, and termites.  All are pretty messy to deal with!  The spiders spin their webs to catch the unsuspecting.  The ants invade like an army, so small so as to go undetected until their numbers amass to insurmountable amounts!  The termites just eat away, undermining the integrity of the structure.  I don't know about you, but I want the "wood" of my life to be put together well, free of any invading forces, trap-setting, or crippling influences.

Just sayin!