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Friday, October 11, 2013

I have lots of tools!

If you have ever taken to leaning on your own understanding, you might have just limited yourself to whatever is in your "toolbox"!  I like to do little odd jobs around the house, tackling some of the projects myself - some call it being a "do-it-yourself" kind of thing.  Yet, there are some tasks which are just outside of my "scope" because I neither possess the knowledge to perform the task, nor the tools to make the job turn out well.  If you have ever tried to hammer in a nail with the heel of your shoe, you know exactly what I mean!  You might get it into drywall, but if you hit a stud behind that drywall, it isn't going anywhere!  I have come to recognize my "toolbox" and my "skill level" are not always aligned either.  I possess a few more power tools than I really am proficient at using!  I dabble with them, but that circular saw still frightens me!  I imagine severed finger tips and it just gives me the willies!  In a spiritual sense, we kind of limit ourselves whenever we only focus on the "tools" we have in our toolbox, and whenever we rely upon just our own abilities to get the job done, we often don't tap into the expertise which would make the "job" a little easier!

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Don’t assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!  Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.  Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over.  But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction.  It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.  (Proverbs 3:5-12 MSG)

If you didn't get the first line of this passage, read it again - for to understand trust, we have to realize it is a "heart thing".  Trust involves more than just my mental understanding - just like owning a tool does not make me proficient in its use.  Trust also involves my emotional response - I have to learn to use the tools I am given.  The mental understanding part is our coming to a place where we know and believe in the character of the one we are placing our trust in.  

I have that circular saw - I know it cuts wood much better than my trusty hand saw, and I know it has power I don't possess which can help me get the job done quickly.  I have seen others use the same tool, with seeming ease and practiced skill.  They have this ability to use it because they have done more than just develop a mental understanding of the tool's abilities and strengths - they have made the emotional investment! When I don my goggles, clamp down my wood, place my saw guide securely in position, remove my fingers from a position of danger - I move from mental understanding of the tool to the emotional response of actually hitting the "on" button and allowing that blade to whirl around at speeds which allow it to slice through the wood like butter!  

When we take the step from just mental understanding into the place of emotional response, we "turn on" the power we lack on our own.  We are putting ourselves "out there" in a position of trusting in what we know about God.  His character is learned through our mental understanding - what we read about him, what others tell us, and what we have come to experience first hand.  Our trust moves us from just knowing into a place of allowing his action on our behalf to actually give us an ability we don't possess on our own.  We are no longer focusing on our own ability, strength, or confidence to get the job done - we are allowing him to "power on" his!  Our part is to trust with everything we are - both the mental and emotional!  

A word of caution here - we aren't going to get very far if all we depend upon is our own understanding.  We can come into understanding of truths about God and his ways, but they are not going to become effectual in our lives until we cross over from the place of mental understanding into emotional response.  Our understanding is always subject to being affected by the circumstances - we can misread the situation and be way off base, as a result. When I fear the tool I am given, I begin to avoid its use.  The job is harder when I don't use the tools I am given.  As long as I fear losing a finger, I will never use the tool!

Our understanding is also affected by the people involved in a circumstance and the past experiences we have had in similar situations.  I am a nurse, so I have seen the severed fingers!  I have seen the nails from nail guns put through toes!  I could allow these past experiences to keep me away from the use of these "tools" myself.  I have also seen some folks pretty sloppy in their own use of the their tools - so if I follow in their footsteps, I could actually end up with the injuries I so greatly fear!  

We are to seek his will in all we do and he promises to guide our paths.  A seeker has several character traits - a passion for that which they pursue; a desire to discover new things about the one they seek; a lack of fear of making requests that will help to uncover what may have previously been hidden; and an unwillingness to give up short of finding what they seek!  If we want to get to know the tools in our toolbox, we have to seek to understand them, then take them out, trusting the one who has given them to us to guide us in their use.

So, not sure what tools you are struggling with using today, but just know this - a tool in your toolbox is of no real use until it is the right tool for the job. When it is the "right" tool for the job, to settle for any other tool is really kind of counter-productive and makes the job a whole lot more difficult to accomplish.  We have to get to know the tools we have been given, then be willing to take them out, using them where they are most needed!  Just sayin!