Tools; August 5, 2019

Psalm 44:6-7 I do not trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.

Weapons, or any tools, for that matter, are all well and good, but they aren’t the final answer. We have great trouble grasping that at times. We think, “If only I had such-and-such,” when the fundamental problem is something else entirely. I’m reminded of the story of a photographer who was showing some of his pictures to a friend’s family. The friend’s mother said, “What beautiful pictures! You must have a very good camera.” The photographer bit his tongue, but after supper he said, “What delicious food! You must have very good pots and pans.” Tools are necessary, but they aren’t the essence. That is all the more true, and all the easier to overlook, when it comes to serving God. We think, “If I only had the gift of [whatever], I could really serve God.” What God is looking for is a heart that says, “Use me however You like, and equip me for the task.” Just as it is foolish to go into battle without weapons, it is wise to evaluate what gifts we have before launching into a project. However, if God says to do it, He will provide whatever is necessary along the way. Moses is an excellent example here. He apparently had a speech impediment, (Exodus 4:10) but God chose him partly for that very reason. (Exodus 4:11-12) He evidently had very little administrative ability, but God used his father-in-law to teach him. (Exodus 18:13-26) The important thing that God was looking for was total commitment and dependence. The minute we start thinking “I’ve got this,” we’re in trouble. That’s not at all to say that we aren’t to recognize the gifts God has given us, but it is to say that we must remember the One who gave them to us, and not rely on the gifts themselves.

This has been something of the story of my life. God has gifted me in many ways, but I have tended to rely on the gifts, and thus myself, instead of on God. Conversely, I have neglected the gifts and failed to ask God how He wanted me to use them. On top of that, the seminary I attended sought to equip me for ministry with various tools, but I found that virtually none of them were culturally appropriate for ministry in Japan, and they were thus ineffective. My focus needs to be on my Lord and the tasks He has assigned to me, as a good steward of the tools He has already given me, knowing that He will supply anything I lack, either in ability or in resources, for whatever it is He has for me to do. As a geek, I have a natural focus on physical tools, but they are at best secondary, if they even make it that far. I need to recognize that weakness in me and choose to focus on my Lord, since he can rout an army with a donkey’s jawbone! (Judges 15:15) Tools and gifts are nice, but they must not be my focus.

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Thank You for all You did in the day yesterday. Thank You for all that You are going to do in this week ahead before my photo show. Help me remember that even the show itself is no more than a tool to share You with those around me. Help me be faithful and diligent in each thing You have for me to do, so that Your will may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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