Last Thursday night three different storms brought booming thunder, streaks of lightning, and a deluge of rain to our little town. It was the rain that created the problem for me as a rushing current dumped a lump of old leaves and pine needles on top of a drain cover at the bottom of our outside basement steps, right in front of the basement door. The clogged cover became a dam that allowed the water to mount up in front of that door and begin to seep into the basement. Thankfully I was still up at the time and had the good sense to check the basement before too much water got in there. Of course, I must have been quite a site out in the yard at 12:30 a.m. in the middle of a flood trying to clear that cover. At least the lighting strikes every five seconds allowed me to see what I was doing!
Well, Friday morning was cleanup time, which meant that I needed one of those wet/dry vacs to get the water out of the basement. I got in touch with my brother Richie, who has one, but he had already left his house to go to work. He did offer to make the trip back home, but another option seemed viable. One of my church members, a fellow named Chris, is doing some renovation work around our house these days, and he had a small wet/dry vac with him. We figured it would be big enough to handle the job since there wasn’t that much water. I soon found out, though, that we had figured wrongly.
For one thing, there was more water in that basement than I realized. For another, that little vacuum had to be emptied about every thirty seconds. I was wearing myself out walking to and fro emptying that thing, and I hadn’t even gotten to the deepest part of the water yet. Clearly it was time for a better plan. So I got in the car, drove out to our local Sears, and bit the bullet to buy a shiny new sixteen-gallon wet/dry vac. The thing cost $117, but now I had the right tool. I was tired of having to borrow Richie’s every time a water problem came up anyway.
Once I had the vacuum back home, the battle with the basement water was over quickly. Whereas I had been making numerous trips to empty that small vacuum, the sixteen-gallon one just kept pulling up water until the basement was dry. As I was emptying it for the one time afterwards, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “There’s just no substitute for the RIGHT tool.”
Have you ever used a shoe to drive a nail in a wall? Have you ever used a knife to turn a screw? Have you ever used a pair of scissors to prune a bush? Speaking from experience, I can tell you that using the wrong tool might be one way to get a job done but it will never be the best way. If I had kept working with that small vacuum, I could have eventually gotten that basement dry but it would have taken me half the day!
As I consider all this, I honestly feel for the Lord as He tries to get His work done in this world. What do you do when a nail needs driving and your hammer won’t report for duty? You use a shoe who will report for duty. What do you do when a screw needs turning and your screwdriver is a.w.o.l.? You use a knife who is present and willing to work. What do you do when a bush needs trimming and your shears are off doing their own thing? You use a pair of scissors who will do whatever you ask them. Such is God’s plight. He has to make do with what He has available to Him, and so many times that just isn’t the best tool for the job.
Please understand that I am in no way criticizing anybody who is out there doing any work for the Lord. Much to the contrary, I praise each one for his or her willingness. As the old saying goes, God is more interested in your availability than your ability. I’m merely pointing out that God’s work gets done so much more efficiently and proficiently when the exact tool for a job is yielded to Him and willing to do it.
You see, small wet/dry vacs can do certain jobs far better than large, cumbersome ones, but it just so happens that drying up a fair amount of water from a basement isn’t one of them. And so it is with God’s work. That’s why He needs all different kinds of tools at His disposal. And, yes, that includes the tool that you are. So the question is, are you letting Him use you to do the jobs for which you are specifically designed or is He having to use the wrong tools to do those jobs because you refuse to report for work?