I love hand tools – old hand tools. My workbench and toolboxes are stocked with a wide variety of old hammers of all sorts, wood plains of several different types, chisels, and draw knives, and hand saws. I have a few very interesting old pipe wrenches, which I honestly hope I never have to use, because if I do need to use them, it means that I have to do some plumbing work. And if there is one type of home maintenance work that I genuinely dislike, it’s plumbing. Though actually the world of modern plumbing fixtures rarely calls for large pipe wrenches anymore. I bought these old wrenches mostly just because I think they look really interesting.
A few of these old tools came to me from my father and my grandfather. A few I bought at yard sales. Most I bought at a wonderful second-hand store where I used to live in central New York state. The first floor of the store was full of all manner of collectibles and almost-but-not-quite antiques. But in the basement, which had an overhead clearance several inches lower than the top of my skull, were shelf after shelf, bin after bin of old tools and used hardware and some quite mysterious and unidentifiable items of great interest. I think the owner of the store stocked this treasure trove of old tools by going to estate sales and offering to buy the entire content of old handymen’s workshops. In any case, it was wonderful place to spend an hour or so just rummaging through the shelves and bins and making discoveries.
If a tool is still in good working order after seventy-five or a hundred years, it means that it is a well-made tool that has been used properly by someone who knew how to use and care for tools. That’s the kind of tool I like to have handy when I’m working on a project in my workshop. I use new power tools in my workshop too, of course, but I especially like to use hand tools whenever I can. And there’s a good reason for that. I make mistakes in my workshop, and I have learned through hard experience that mistakes made with power tools happen much faster and are almost always much worse than mistakes made with a hand tool. So, if I can do the job with a hand tool, that’s always my preference. And that’s why I love finding and buying old, well-made hand tools.
I could buy old tools just to collect and display them in a case, the way some people do with Hummel figurines or Star Wars action figures. But the fact is, I love to make things. I love to take some kind of raw material – say, a block of walnut or mahogany – and turn it into something beautiful or useful or both. And it is tools that enable me to do that. Their value to me is based on how well they enable me to perform some task in the process of making something out of some raw material.
Now, I’m not writing all this just to tell you all about me and my tools. I’m writing this in order to tell you something important about God and about you. In the Bible and in the world around us, God shows us that he delights in making things and in taking broken things and repairing them. He also loves to use good tools – well-made and well-maintained – to accomplish his creative and reparative projects. That’s who God is.
Here’s where you and I fit into all of this. You and I – we’re the tools God just loves to use. When God’s opens his toolbox to do a “job,” you and I are in there. And he decides whether to use us to accomplish some work for his kingdom. There is a difference between us and the hand tools in my workshop. My hand tools are passive. They don’t get a say in whether they are willing to be used. They don’t take care of themselves. If they need cleaning or sharpening, I have to do that. They can’t do that for themselves. We, however, the tools in God’s toolbox, we are not passive. We are active participants in the process of working with God.
- ¨ What kind of tool are you? How has God designed you? What has he equipped you to do in the kingdom of God? Do you know? There are spiritual gifts assessments that can help you learn about your spiritual gifts. There are personality assessments that can help you understand you natural inclinations and aptitudes. But, one of the simplest ways to discover your gifts and abilities for doing the work of the kingdom of God is to just step out and try things. God will show you how you can best serve his mission in the world.
- ¨ Are you willing to allow God to take you out of his toolbox and use you to accomplish some work of ministry for the kingdom of God? Or do you refuse to be taken out and put to use? Sadly, a large percentage of the people of God – maybe 80% — just never get out of the toolbox. They spend their lives just sitting at the bottom of God’s toolbox. God has a wonderful plan for you. He wants you to have a hand in his mission in the world. But you can’t do that if you just sit cozy and unbothered in the bottom of God’s toolbox. Step out. Put yourself in God’s hand. Invite him to use you to change the world. Follow Isaiah’s example by saying, “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
- ¨ Are you in good working order? Do you keep yourself sharp and well-oiled and in good working order? We make ourselves sharp, strong, well-oiled tools by growing in our faith. We study God’s word on our own and with others on a regular and committed basis. We keep our hearts and minds in tune with his heart and mind through constant prayer. We seek out good discipling and training opportunities. We value our gifts and abilities and seek to improve them. There are too many dull, rusty tools in God’s toolbox. Let the Holy Spirit put you and keep you in good working order for God.
I love my tools. I love the feel of them in my hands. I love using them to make something lovely and useful. God loves his tools. He takes great delight in the feel of us in his hands as he uses us to make something beautiful for his kingdom. Don’t miss out on that. Be part of making something beautiful with God.
© 2019 Gary A. Chorpenning; all rights reserved.