When I was a kid, there was one room in the house that was off limits, but that I could never resist sneaking into, and snooping around in. It was a room that was so amazing and so filled with such unique things, that I risked punishment almost daily just to spend a few minutes moping around in there. This room? My dad's garage!
Now, I know that the house truly belonged to my mother and father equally... Well, almost equally. As much as each room was “shared”, I also knew that certain rooms were more mom's domain, or dad's. Mom was the queen of our kitchen, turning out amazing cookies and pies every time she set foot in there. But I also knew that we didn't enter without her permission. And if we did... let's just say that it was here that the phrase “fear of God” really started to mean something. Same for the formal living room that we never went in. Mom kept that rug spotless for when guests would arrive. But we weren't guests, so we NEVER went in there!
As for dad's part of the house? The one area that was truly his, was the garage. He kept his tools out there, his projects. In a way, this was where he stored his hopes and dreams. I know that sounds melodramatic, but my dad is an amazing mechanic and gardener. And the things he truly loved to do and work on were all stored there, neatly arranged on benches hugging the walls of that room. When we had that amazing vegetable garden on 800 North, it was in this room that he stored the seeds and fertilizer (not to mention the hoes and rakes and such) that brought us cucumbers and watermelons and tomatoes and even corn were stored! That garden was tiny, but by utilizing the tools in that shed, he turned out a crop that looked like it should belong on a farm! Amazing!
It wasn't just garden implements in there, either. The garage was also where dad kept his camping equipment, his tools for home repair. And most importantly, this is where he kept his tools for repairing the family cars! (At some point, I will need to go into great length about my obsession with cars. But let's just say, for now, that it all started in that little garage...)
I'll never forget how I would look around at all the tools, amazed that he had so many, each with such a unique shape, some even qualifying as beautiful! Many of the tools were ones that I have now: wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, etc. Others I hope to get when I finally get a house. I mean, this guy had four or five trimmers alone: one for hedges, one for bushes, one for the edge of the grass, etc.
I remember looking through one of his ammo boxes (that he used to keep screws and such in), and finding this one particularly odd contraption. He had this weird black rubbery/plastic tool-thingy about as big as his thumb, and sort of shaped like it too, that was hollow inside, with all of these long metallic bristles in the opening. As a young one, I assumed it was some sort of torture device! It sure as hell looked like one! It was only in my teens that I learned that this contraption had but one purpose: to clean the leads for a car battery. It was heavy and lunky, and quite an ugly tool. And yet, it's purpose was as important as the gorgeous circular saw dad kept locked up under his long work bench.
Today, many years since I last snuck into the secret world of my father's garage, I was reading a daily devotional in the book Jesus by Beth Moore. I have had this book for almost a year, and haven't really done much with it. But last night and this morning, I felt a need to pick it up and really read it. I was on Day 2 today, when I read the last two sentences that Beth wrote in a prayer to God: “In Your hands and by Your power, You can do through me whatever you desire. May I believe this in ever greater measure.”
In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he speaks of how we are the instruments by which the world is changed. He wields us to do His will, His purpose. And man, is that an amazing concept! It is through ME that God will change others' lives. Me. ME. ME! In times where I am humble or insecure, that seems like such a crazy concept. I mean, sure I have a few skills and talents, but God is the God of the universe. Why would he use a broken tool like me. In that same Chapter of Corinthians, we learn that God does this to show His power! After all, if He can change the world using a bunch of rejects like us, then He truly is something amazing and unstoppable!. It is times like this that I marvel at how amazing God is.
But here's the rub. I am not always thinking in such humble terms. Sometimes I am quite proud of the work God has given me. Sometimes I think not that I need Him, but rather that He needs me! I know that is such an arrogant thing to say, but when I am doing J5, there are times I feel that if I don't do it all, then the men of Utah will never be free of sexual sin. As if I am the sexual saviour of this state! I know how arrogant that sounds, believe me. And I am a bit embarrassed to tell you that I sometimes think this way. But, I also know that for the purpose of writing this, I need to be 100% real today.
You see, I am sort of like that car battery cleaner thingy my dad had. I have a very specific purpose, one that I sometimes believe makes me invaluable to the Man in the Garage. After all, without me that 1979 Lincoln would never run. Am I right, or am I right here, peoples? Like that odd-shaped bit of plastic, I forget that I am not the only tool in the shed. And I forget that God has billions of tools in His garage.
A few weeks ago, my car wouldn't start. I tried cleaning the battery with a wire brush, but it wasn't working. I called my dad, hoping he would bring that hunk of rubber over. He didn't have time to come over, so he told me to run in the house and grab a cup of water and a box of baking soda. Long story short, it did the same job, and did it pretty darn quick. I was back on my way in no time.
In God's scheme of things, he doesn't use us because we are invaluable. He doesn't use us because we are irreplacable. Rather, he uses us so that we may grow and learn, and eventually shape ourselves to be more like him. It's easy to get caught up thinking that without us, God's plans are stymied. If I wasn't here, J5 would fall apart. If I wasn't here, the pastor wouldn't be kept in check, or the chidren wouldn't be taught properly, or the... whatever.
But the truth is, God will take any tool and make it shine, as long as it is willing to do His will. Just like my dad's garage, God has a million tools to choose from. And God will use each and every one of us to help His great project. But, He can only use us if we acquiesce that He is the mechanic, that He is truly in charge. When we start getting to thinking that we are irreplacable, that is when we get replaced.
Bottom line is this: You are special because God loves you and created you. What you do is nothing other than what you were created for. Your works, your deeds, your actions, these don't make you better or worse than any other person that God created. God isn't looking for the prettiest tool, or the most unique tool (to Him all of His tools have beauty and uniqueness). He is looking for the most willing tool, the one that will do the job asked of Him. So when God reaches for you, are you willing to do it on His terms, and create Heaven on earth, or are you going to be replaced by baking soda and a cup of water? The choice is yours.