by Joanie Butman
A whole new world opened up for me this week. Tired of waiting for handymen to show up to do small jobs, I finally visited Home Depot and bought myself a nail gun and some proper drill bits for the tasks at hand. It’s amazing how much quicker and easier a project becomes once you have the right tools. Seriously, I’ve been trying to get someone to cut down a closet door for almost ten years. This summer I finally realized I was going to have to do it myself, so I borrowed my father-in-law’s circular saw. It’s not the straightest cut, probably because the blade was rusted with age, but it will do. I felt empowered.
Well, I can’t think of a more complicated DIY project than life – but it doesn’t have to be. You just need the right tools, which God so lovingly provides should you choose to utilize them. The Bible contains the necessary equipment for tackling the most challenging ‘home’ improvement projects. For example, if you are a worrier, you might want to fill your spiritual toolbox with verses that calm. If you’re fearful, verses that encourage.
While Scripture can be an effective tool, it’s true power resides with the One who inspired it. Life is not meant to be a DIY exercise. We are given God’s Holy Spirit as the most important tool in our spiritual walk. If we choose to listen, He will instruct and guide us while supplying the necessary tools we need to accomplish our assigned task whether it be courage, strength, patience, peace, endurance, etc.
So why DID I wait so long to buy a nail gun or learn to use a circular saw? Probably for the same reason I waited so long to embrace Christianity – fear. In regard to certain power tools, I’ve always been a little nervous considering some of the bizarre and painful accidents I’ve heard about – like nails in your head or losing a finger. As far as Christianity is concerned, I feared becoming ‘one of those.’ You know, the stereotypical, doorbell-ringing evangelists we all try to avoid.
In both instances, I couldn’t have been more misguided. Sure, power tool mishaps do occur, but they’re not the norm. The nail gun wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I thought. If you end up with a nail in your head, you’re probably doing something stupid or careless. The rusty blade on the circular saw was an issue, but once replaced the cut was straighter and smoother, though now the door sits quite high off the floor - an excellent reminder to take care of my tools.
As for Christianity, I won’t be ringing your doorbell anytime soon. It wasn’t the brainwashing experience some people fear. In fact, it was only through spiritual growth that I discovered just how much I needed a thorough ‘brain washing’ to cleanse my selfish, self-serving desires. Rather than making me close-minded and dogmatic, it opened my mind and heart to an entire new approach to the project of life. Not that I didn’t feel like I had a nail in my head at times – due to my own stupidity and rebellious nature of course. I learned the hard way that when you’re living outside God’s will, you will make stupid, careless choices that are painful and costly. In fact, it was only after being on this journey for a while that I recognized I’d been shooting myself in the foot for years. OUCH!
Here’s the thing about spiritual home improvement projects: no one can do it for you, as tempting as that sounds. It’s a process that each of us has to choose to undertake. And guess what? The same way my closet was unusable until the door was cut down, so were areas of my life. Our efforts need not be perfect. Our cuts will often be ragged and crooked but empowering nonetheless. Spiritual self-improvement is a life-long endeavor. As such, it will behoove you not to let your tools, once discovered, become rusty from lack of use. More importantly, just like that circular saw, spiritual rust will render us ineffective as one of God’s tools in the lives of others. We are at our best when well-oiled with the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I can’t think of a better choice of tools.