Nails that bent

The days are warm for December. We have seen mid 60’s for days. There is almost a caution in the air. Are these lengthy fall temps a treat because Jack Frost will bring us another agonizing winter like last year? There is no reason to dread what is to come. We must just enjoy the day. Relish the moment.

And so I do.

I’ve been working on projects. I realize that my want to do things perfectly leaves me not finishing projects at all. And LORD knows that I am so.crazy.slow. I never rush at anything. When I rush, I make messes. When I move too fast, I fumble.

So, I prefer slow and steady.
And perfect.
I don’t want things done, I want them done well … done right … and with excellence.

Well, ya know what? That kind of pressure has become a standard I have slowly laid aside.
“Improvement is better than perfection” is my new standard.
Though a little speed helps me move on to new things more quickly.
So, there I am on the screened porch with saw, hammer, nails and wood …
cutting and putting together.

I am bracing a line of five or six pieces of wood with a single piece of wood on the back.
The wood on the back is pallet wood which is hard and dry.
The nails move into the wood begrudgingly.
And the last nail … refuses to sink.

It bends. 

And so, I grab another.
And it bends.
And another. and another. and another.
I am almost ready to go find a drill to try another source of penetration.

I realize, I am not paying attention well.
I am quite near a knot.

As I become frustrated, God reminds me,

I’ve already learned this lesson.

Knots are hard, hard places. 


No wonder those nails can’t hold up to the argument of the rock hard wood.
A strong, fibrous, sappy knot is much more difficult to pierce
than the smooth, even grain of the rest of the tree’s wood.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

And I look at my discarded nails
and think of God.
How often does He
try to hold things together for me
with just the right nail …
not too long, not too short ….
just the right size head,
just the right point  …
and I’m so damned hard that
I won’t budge.
I won’t let Him in.
I fight. I squeeze tight. I firm up
and dig in
and REFUSE His carpentry.
He’s working on this wonderful project
bringing together hand-picked pieces  …
and I’m refusing to allow Him to use the pieces to make something lovely.

And sometimes, when things are nearing beautiful ….
there’s a tough spot  … and I walk out.
I abandon the scene.
I leave.

It is always about relationships.
For we are here for community.
We aren’t here to buy a bigger house,
buy a bigger vehicle
get that promotion or raise
or purchase a better phone, television or toy of choice.
We are here … to grow closer to God and love others.
We are here to be a part of relationships.


Honestly, there are so many ways for this to end.
Eventually, God may bring a new nail to the scene and try again.
Or He may bring a new way to pierce my hard-core.
He may even choose to use a screw rather than a nail for better joining.
Or He may … just give up. He may just put the project down and leave me alone.
Because where is the beauty in force?

Oh, how I want to be used.
I want to be supple and easy to pierce.
I want to be available to be used in His projects.
I want to be used to create beautiful … whatever it looks like.
Unconventional. Scrappy. Eclectic. Awkward. Balanced. Messy.
No matter what …. just use me, Lord.
I pray … that I continue to allow Him in.
I pray that I not refuse His choice of elements in the design,
His choice in ways to join together the pieces
or His choice in the final artwork.

And really … I don’t think this life is as much about the final project
as it is about being the being available to be a part of the design.

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