Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Tools He Uses

Recently, a close friend was going through a difficult trial and many of us were coming alongside her in the journey. As she was in the midst of it, we didn’t understand why she was going through it; often the Lord doesn’t reveal those things. My thoughts were that the trial might not have been about her. While it is a hard place to be, we have to remember that our lives are in the hands of the Master Carpenter and occasionally we are the exact tool that He needs to use in order to move in the life of someone else.

As a new believer I would ask, “why me?” I didn’t understand trials, but as I grew in my faith I realized that after I came through it, often within a short time, I would cross paths with someone in a similar circumstance. I was able to say, “I understand, I have been there.” Those are the most powerful words to be able to tell someone in the midst of an ordeal.

As I continued to grow in my walk with the Lord, I realized that often I needed to step back and understand that there were times the trial had nothing to do with me; I was the tool the Lord chose. I was happy when God was working in my life to move me, but when He was working in another’s life to move them, with me on the chopping block, that was hard. I felt like I got the heartaches but none of the rewards. As my trust deepened, I came to see that though difficult, it was often more of a blessing to be used by God for someone else. It is sacrifice which He says shows no greater love (John 15:13).

Growing up as a contractor’s daughter, my dad had tools. From framing squares to hammers, from nails to saws, I saw all of them as these fantastic things I wanted to touch. But they were tools, not toys, I was reminded. I was not allowed to play with them because they had a purpose. Most of them were tools he had accumulated over the years; a few were passed on from my grandfather and great grandfather. The older ones were weathered and old, the wood faded, the blades dull and rusty. A few of them had scratches and chips; others had gouges deep in the metal. I always knew these were not tools that were for display only; these tools had been used hard and often. They had been used to create something wonderful, whether it was a dollhouse for me or a house to be lived in. They had served their purpose well in the hands of the crafter who knew exactly how to use them.

That’s how it is when we are used by the Lord; at times we take a beating and there are pieces of us gouged out. The marks remain unable to be repaired, unable to be smoothed away. However, once the trial is over the outcome is always something beautiful. We see a life finally surrendered to the Lord, or a heart that had walked away from Him returned to His throne. We witness a relationship mended, a life restored, or a future given hope.

At times we’re sure that the trials are far more than we can bear, but can you visualize Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-Nego, in the middle of a fiery furnace to get the attention of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3)? Or Job, covered in boils and losing everything to show Satan that he truly was a servant of God (Job 1:22)? Maybe our trials are not as dramatic, but they cut us the same. Our comfort is to know that our lives rest in the hands of a skillful God, who shapes us and molds us as His creation, His masterpiece. Whether the trial is for us or for someone else, we walk away forever changed, closer than before to His image, closer to His heart, and closer to His throne.

Thank You God, for the trials, whether they are about us or not. Thank You for using me in Your master plan, and for taking care of me not only as Your creation, but as one of Your tools. I give my life to the work of Your hands.