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Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Whet Stone and Some Fire - Bring it on!

We have all probably heard the saying, "This is a little bit of heaven..."  What someone is really trying to convey when they use this expression is that at this very moment, the thing they are experiencing or enjoying is giving them just a little glimpse of awesomeness!  It might be because the chocolate is soft, sweet, and just the right little "pick me up" for a late afternoon snack. It could be when a long awaited vacation away from the hubbub of daily life finds you with toes buried deep in warm sand.  Or maybe it is because you are held close in the arms of someone you love very dearly, just enjoying the moment at hand.  A little taste of heaven....indeed.  I wonder how many of us realize how much God wants to whet our appetite for what he has in store for us?  I think he may be constantly giving us "little tastes of heaven" just so we "stay hungry" for more and more of him!

The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.  (2 Corinthians 5:5 MSG)

Did you realize the very first definition for the word "whet" is really a "sharpening process" whereby grinding or friction produces a sharp edge? Does that give you just a little bit of perspective of what it might just mean to have your appetite whet for just a little bit more of God?  We automatically go to the idea of having our senses made a little keener, more aware, or even eager for something God has for us, but when we consider it in light of being "sharpened", we can begin to see how God begins to prepare us for even greater things he has in store.  He uses the present stuff to "sharpen" us - making us ready for the next opportunities he will unveil.

Sharpening is a process - you have to run the object repeatedly over a surface with just enough abrasiveness to present a little friction with each pass of the object.  In enough time, the shape, feel, and even the look of the object passed repeatedly over the abrasive object begins to change, doesn't it?  It is the repetitiveness of the passage which actually begins the work of changing the object being passed.  There are times I think we might just complain a little about seemingly having to "pass this way again".  If we begin to put this "passage" into perspective, it could just be each time we "pass this way again", there is a certain "sharpness" being developed in us which only comes by the friction we are experiencing.

I don't think God wants us to feel like we are under pressure all the time.  In my knife drawer, I have two knives I go to ALL the time.  One is my old standby, good for almost everything knife.  The other is a little nicer knife, so it is goof for carving when I need to cut into a turkey, roast, or the like.  There are probably a good 8-10 other knives in the drawer, each "okay", but not my favorites!  Why?  They don't hold an edge very well.  They get dull quickly.  I have to repeatedly sharpen them using my whet stone.  They require me to sharpen them way too often, and they don't hold their "sharpness" very well.

The two I use the most hold their edge, requiring less and less passage over the rough stone. Yet, they occasionally get a little duller than I'd like them to be - making me work a little harder to slice through meats, dice fresh veggies, etc.  When this occurs, I break out the sharpener and give them one or two swipes.  That little passage against the rough stone is enough to return their edge.  They perform at their best (and I do too) when they are the sharpest! What makes those two knives different?  I think it is the grade of their steel! They are a little more "tempered" than the other knives - so they hold their edge better.

"Tempering" is a process which gives strength - but it comes as heat is applied, followed by a little pounding, shaping, and repeated return to the heat.  There is a strength produced in the work of tempering the metal of the blade and a stability given when the blade is sunk deeply into the handle. The stronger the blade, the nicer the edge.  Maybe God doesn't want to crush us with the repeated opportunities to shape our character, but instead, he wants to give us the ability to "hold a sharp edge" a little longer!

Most would not associate either the tempering or the whetting process as "a little taste of heaven", but when you consider what is produced by both, you might just reconsider!  Just sayin!