Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scroll Saws and Jack Hammers

Sometimes when I go to church, I get the most out of teachings that leave me stone-cold and bored to death, annoyed that someone with so little to say, with so little insight, could have found his way behind a microphone in front of so many people. Sometimes I get a lot out of those very teachings because of the clash of the titans going on in my heart. Waves of uncharitable thoughts toward the unsuspecting speaker are crashing through my mind, fueled by irritation and disappointment that I came to be encouraged and enlightened in the Word, and now I'm stuck sitting there for an hour or more listening to banalities.

But I am in church, and my conscience is sorely pricked by these uncharitable thoughts, so I make every effort to combat them by reminding myself of the intrinsic worth and foundational truth of the ideas being expressed, however trite, and the value of all the personalities God has seen fit to put under the sun, even those who by nature lack insight.

Such was the case today. This was a guest speaker, of course. (I couldn't bear to go to a church where the regular teaching pastor put me through this every week!) But because I sit there arguing with myself for the entire teaching, I actually pay much closer attention, and in the end, always walk out freshly encouraged by something.

Today's fresh encouragement came in the form of being reminded that God made me exactly the way He intended, with exactly the strengths and exactly the weaknesses He designed, and He put me in exactly the life position He purposed to accomplish exactly the work He created for exactly me to do. Exactly.

This was a good thing for me today, because yesterday I indulged in a few hours of black perspective on the world, revolving, of course, around myself and my hopeless weakness. Not weaknesses -- just my general, wretched, sorry, weak excuse for a self.

I took some time, went out and prayed, and God's answer during my prayer time was to have my lovely second daughter call from where she's spending the summer as a counselor at a Christian camp. That took me sufficiently out of myself to regain a better view of things, because of course, that was the problem in the first place: I was completely absorbed in the black hole of myself.

And then I got up this morning and finished up my last blog entry before church, which always makes me happy. (The date seems to always remain the date of the original posting, even if I make changes to it days later. I'm glad about that, because the date of the original posting is the date of the origin of the thought, even if it takes longer than that to get it expressed just the way I like it.) I also wrote my husband an e-mail, catching him up on the goings on with the kids since he went out of town. That also made me happy.

So this guy who was speaking today is a good guy, I'm sure. I'm sure he's godly. However, if he were to take any one of those personality tests, most of which are very similar, he would undoubtedly score high in the personality category that I have the most trouble appreciating. It comes out in his teachings too, and that adds another level of gurgle in my gut as I listen.

And of all things, this is the guy talking about how God made us each just the way He wanted us, that "God doesn't make mistakes." (He actually said that in his teaching. He quoted a bumper sticker, basically.) This is the guy reminding me of what I already know is true, that God designed each one of us exactly the way He intended, to be His tool in glorifying Himself on this earth. And He will use each of His tools for their intended purpose, not for any other.

Just like a hammer would be an awful tool to use to open a bottle of pop, and a shovel would be an awful tool to drive a nail, and a wheelbarrow would be an awful tool to dig a hole, so would I be an awful tool for ... lots of things. There are a lot of things God would never use me for, because it would only result in a big mess.

And maybe it has resulted in big messes at times, when I've tried to be something I'm not, when I've tried to do a job meant for someone else. I'm embarrassed to think about it!

But it was wonderful and comical to realize that this very guy speaking, as much as I don't understand his type, is an awesome tool in God's workshop. God uses people like him in grand ways. I could never do what he does. And He could never do what I do.

What is it that I do? Well, I don't know -- but I do know that nothing fills me with more joy than putting words to ideas. I love ideas, and I love conveying them in exactly the right words. It's the craziest kind of joy to which nothing else can compare in this undistinguished little life of mine. I'd never reveal how often I read and reread e-mail, especially if I've just told someone something important to me. Sometimes I even do that with text messages. It's why I love this blog, even though I wrestle with the vulnerability of going public with my private musings. I can blow hours of a day putting something in just the right words and feel so accomplished afterward, like something very significant has happened that day. But on a day like that when my husband calls to ask what went on that day, I have nothing to tell him. This happiness and pride, this joy and fulfillment swells in my heart, but all I have to say is, "Not much," because nothing tangible did happen. I blew hours in front of the computer when I should probably have been cleaning something.

(Mind you, I'm not saying I put words to ideas well. I'm only saying it gives me joy to think I've done it well. And I also understand that most of my blog entries are self-indulgent and not worth the cyberspace they occupy. But it is enormously cathartic for my to be able to express them.)

Anyway, I ended up being refreshed in just the way I needed to be by that very annoying teaching. And I have a new appreciation for this guy who bugs me. Just like a jack hammer has no appreciation of the need for, say, a scroll saw, because it's too busy busting up asphalt. And a scroll saw sees no need for a jack hammer because it's too busy carving pretty little curves in pieces of wood.  So our diverse personalities often miss the importance of each other. But God makes jack hammers, scroll saws, and everything else in between, and He knows exactly where He needs to put each to use.

So if a scroll saw finds itself feeling weak, wretched and hopelessly useless some days, it needs to remember that it is weak, wretched and hopelessly useless if it's trying to bust up asphalt. It will be much happier if it contents itself with carving pretty little curves in pieces of wood, like its maker intended.

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