I love tools—I inherited my love of hardware stores from my father and to this day, love wandering in small hardware stores. I love looking at hardware products and nails and screws and various household improvement items. (I am, obviously, easily entertained.) I always enjoy the tools section..…even though I might never be able to really use them….. a chain-saw could be a weapon of mass destruction in my hands.
But there are other tools in our lives that are available to us ….. that we can pick up and use. The problem is that we often pick up the wrong one. We can even use the wrong faith tool.
In my New Year’s Post, I wrote about my faith struggles….. my wanting to get over the emotional pain resulting from my divorce. I shared how the statement in the book Eat Love Pray was important to me in my recovery process…. when one of the characters says … “you have to view your mind as a harbor. When those bad thoughts come, you have to tell them that the harbor of your mind is closed…..you will not let those thoughts come into the harbor.” (https://jfhandy.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/2013-01-01-faith-and-joy-happy-new-year-2013/)
In short, you have to consciously think about something else. But how do you do that and what do you do? I realized that takes more than just saying you will not think something…..you have to replace the thought with something else.…. some other thought must fill the void.
In a faith walk there are many steps and tools you can use when facing challenges. Perhaps the response most often given when facing challenges is to decide to pray about it or, when we hear about difficulties others are facing, we answer “I will pray for you”.
Yet, on many levels that is such an easy answer. .. so easy that for me, from time to time, it seems like a cop-out. Prayer is a great tool but perhaps it should not always be the first response.
If you need to hammer a nail into the wall and I give you a screwdriver, you might could do it but it would take more work and more effort than truly needed…..and in the end, the nail might be bent over or not fully attached. You used the wrong tool.
Andy Stanley (North Point Ministries) made remarks in an online sermon that truly stuck with me. He was talking about when Satan tempted Jesus 3 times in the wilderness, Christ did not respond to Satan by saying “let us pray” or “I need to pray” Instead, His remarks began with “It is written” and He would answer each temptation by quoting scripture.
What I have begun to realize is that there is unbelievable power in quoting scripture. There is power and strength in saying OUT LOUD the Word of the Lord. But this means you have to read and commit those words to memory.
The base scripture for this blog (I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me) was deliberately chosen based on past experience. I have found myself saying those words out loud during times of stress and times of uncertainty. Some of those times of uncertainty have been a tad humorous.
I will never forget saying those words literally through gritted teeth as I attempted to drive a car by myself in England. Those that have read that hilarious blog post know that after I left the National Car Rental place, I got stuck going round and round in a roundabout; dealt with a Garmin GPS device that I swear told me to turn into an office park; had to deal with trying to drive on the LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD while SITTING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CAR and after 20 minutes I found myself back at the intersection I began on. I was afraid the National Car Rental staff would see me!!
But to this day, I still can “see” myself driving around and around that roundabout and “hear” myself saying out loud “I can do all things though Christ Jesus who strengthens me”. I remain convinced that the only reason I made it to Chipping Campden in one piece was my belief in that statement and saying it out loud.
So, if saying scripture out loud is an important faith tool, then perhaps you need more than one such tool in your tool chest. In short, you need to have committed to memory scriptures that you can stand on for multiple situations. With that in mind, there are other scriptures that I am committing to memory. But these will be, I hope, not only for my tool chest, but perhaps for others.
One of my challenges in the workplace and even in my family life is how to share my faith without sounding preachy…. I have friends and family members that have issues …and some are very serious. I do not like merely saying “I will pray for you” … it seems like I am tossing out such a pat answer.
And I do believe, as they say, that God is in control and that He sees the big picture and that God is the maker of heaven and earth… of all that is seen and unseen. He knows THE plan.
But if my family or friends are not even sure that God cares or exists or would answer prayers, I am hesitant to toss out a pat answer such as “I will pray for you”. But perhaps being able to say not only will I pray for you but being able to give them a remark… a scripture for them to hang onto…. perhaps using both tools would be of greater benefit.
I shared in my June post my desire to create Nana’s Rules for my grandchildren (Lauren and Sean) based loosely on the Gibbs’ Rules from NCIS. As I look at these rules, I also want to commit to memory my Scripture Rules.
What would be my top ten or top twenty scriptures… what could I say to Lauren or Sean when we are looking at a sunset together or sharing a meal… what scripture could I quote that would reinforce the joy we are feeling?
Or, when Lauren or Sean are afraid, what scripture can I quote to them that would replace those fearful thoughts with thoughts and words that would allow them to know the joy and strength that comes from the Lord….that they could use those words to create a strong foundation on which they can build their lives… so that they too can “do all things through Christ Jesus” who strengthens them.
Quoting Scripture…. one of the best tools we have available to us. Perhaps it is time for me to learn how to really use it.