Daily Proverbial, from Ecclesiastes, 27 November 2012

If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success. Ecclesiastes 10, verse 10.

You know, I like to say that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Really. I’m not. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed either; I suppose that’s a play on the same phrase. There are folks better than I am, and there are many who aren’t as sharp as I am. It’s a statement of humility, but it’s also a statement of reality. Yet God can do something with even dull, unsharpened me. He can do it because He’s God and skilled. He can also do it because, as Proverbs 27 says, “Iron sharpens iron.” God is the ultimate iron and the ultimate knife. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little sharpening.

Good to know. See, nearly all the tools in my toolbox are dull. My saws need sharpening. My hedge trimmers need sharpening. My knifes need sharpening and my utility knives need new blades. If you go into my kitchen, you’ll find more of the same. There are dull knives and dull scissors. It’s not all because I’ve used them carelessly, that is, that I haven’t kept them up. No, it’s more because of over-use and circumstance that these once-sharp implements have become dull and rounded on the edges.

Ditto, I’m afraid, on things you won’t find in a tool box or knife drawer. I’m afraid that my prayer skills are lacking from time to time. I pray daily, but some times more than others, and when I’m away from it in focused effort, well, I’m afraid my prayer skills start to ebb. Sometimes when I pray, I feel distant from God. It feels like I’m just talking, not connecting, maybe even like I’m a fool. When that happens, it gets easy to fall away.

Thank God He’s skilled, strong, and successful using weakened prayer warriors like me.

And my intelligence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. All those years of school should present themselves in evidence better than me. More often than not, despite all my years of charm school and refinement, I shoot off my mouth at the wrong time, or I don’t recollect even simple things that I think a better man would know. Sometimes I think that, if it weren’t for Google or the talents of others, I wouldn’t be successful at much of anything worthwhile. I’m smart, but sometimes I don’t think I’m quite smart enough.

Thank God He’s skilled, strong, and successful using less-than-genius people like me.

Then there are my hopes and dreams. Even at middle age, I still have many that are unfulfilled. I’d like to plant a vineyard and an olive grove, but time seems to be running out if there’s to be time to actually glean a living from fully grown plants. I’d like to learn how to rebuild a car engine but I don’t yet have either the tools or the time. I’d like to travel the world with my wife, maybe even run The Amazing Race with her, but I don’t really know how we would each get time off from work. The older I get the more I feel that my hopes and dreams for what I’d like to do in this world will forever remain just ethereal, dreamish, and unfulfilled.

Thank God He’s skilled, strong and successful using procrastinating dreamers like me. I think you can figure out how this goes.

See, God expects perfection out of us, and whether we want to admit it or not, we aren’t perfect. I’m not razor-sharp; I’m not even a Ginsu knife. More often than not, I’m that dull paring knife in the back of the drawer. I don’t know about you, but I’m not perfect. I try, but I’m not, and to tell you the truth, sometimes I don’t really even try very hard (if at all). God sees it. He still expects perfection because He is perfection in skill, in life and in love. He expects it but understands we don’t deliver it. He then infuses our lives with His grace and mercy. And He sharpens us to do better.

That makes it ok. He meets me where I am, instead of demanding I do something to meet Him where He is. Where I’m weak, He is strong. He sharpens me, refines me, knocks off my rust and polishes away my tarnish. And He hones the edge of my soul to a fine blade. Where I start out with little skill, He builds me up so that, even when I find myself using the dull tools at my disposal, I’m a better man because of Him. What skills I have are gifts from above and He helps me to hone them, to use them better so that even the dull blade I use can be used skillfully by the man I am who can be a dull blade himself.

That way, even the dullest knife in the drawer can be useful.

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