My dad had a shop in the basement, a couple of rooms of the basement in fact. It was pretty awe-inspiring. His big engineer’s drafting table, from which hung the triangle and T-square, dominated one room, the one in which he built in all the new cabinets himself. I think that was before he designed and built the beautiful screened-in back porch.
The actual shop was in an adjacent room. This housed a myriad of baby food jars filled with screws and washers and all types and sizes of things. His lathe was in there, and the circle saw, and undoubtedly a host of other things I would have no idea how to use. (What’s a router??)
Mom was definitely in on the action. While Dad made the dollhouse and the pull-toys and rocking horses, Mom did the painting. She also had curious antique tools decorating the kitchen area upstairs. Have fun guessing what some of those were used for back in the days before electricity!
Then one day Dad pulls out an old, beautifully handcrafted wooden toolbox. The kind you can sit on, no, stand on, eat a picnic off of. And inside were the tools of one of our (not-sure-how-many-great) grandfathers. These are from the day when tools, and the things they created, were built to last a couple thousand years minimum.
Because your life and loved ones depended on them, and your ability to use them. Walmart didn’t exist and pre-fab wasn’t an option.
I admit this isn’t a new metaphor, but it’s a really good one. Since I tend to be the person who will grab a table knife if a screwdriver isn’t conveniently available, it’s an important one for me in particular. I am becoming increasingly aware how vital it is (as well as more efficient and safe) for me to know what I have available to use and how to use it, which most definitely includes the spiritual realm.
In that toolbox, for example, I realize that my husband, Bob, is one of my very important tools. Not just instrumentally in how he provides for the family, but intrinsically, the spiritual authority God has placed in my life through him.
Now, before fists are raised in defiance, I’m quick to add that authority is only one tool, but an important one we don’t like to talk about positively in our current culture. This is with good reason since authority took a big tumble in the Garden with everything else in creation, setting it (and us) up for abuse. Here’s Paul’s take on authority:
“ I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.”
True God-given authority is just that: it is true and given by God. “True” in that it does what it is intended to do—build up, protect, guide. And yet it can only do this when it is under the authority of the Giver—God Himself.
Paul’s comment also brings out another aspect of this benevolent authority. We all have some level of authority in our own lives, whether we recognize it or not. I see many parents abdicate this authority trying to be their kids’ friends, rather than their parents. It’s like they’re ashamed to use the power sander to remove some dangerously rough edges, choosing the fingernail file approach instead. Everyone ends up getting splintered, including the other authorities the kid comes into contact with (i.e., bosses, teachers,…school nurses.)
Paul knew where his authority came from, the boundaries of that responsibility, and how to expertly use it for its intended outcome. His people’s lives depended on his using it thus. He also knew the Authority over himself.
I cannot afford to let this tool remained buried in the bottom of the box, (along with the table knife.)
2 Corinthians 19:8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.