The tools we need

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Harold Arnett offers a reflection on Acts 3, one in which he’s reminded of a Christmas gift from his wife, a new drill. “I was a bit disappointed when I opened the gift,” Harold writes. “The new drill was tiny, about half the size and weight of the one I already had. ‘I don’t need a toy drill,’” he thought.

It’s not an obvious connection, but this is what we find in the story Harold refers to from Acts 3: “Peter and John were going up to the temple. . . . And a man lame from birth was being carried in. . . . When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. . . . Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk. . . . Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”

Again and again in my own life, I’ve found this to be consistent with the way God answers prayer. Stuck in an impossible place, I pray for help. Unfortunately, the answers that come to mind are too small for the problem I’m facing. So I continue to pray. And, if I’m honest, I also continue to be frustrated. What I forget is that God is more likely to bring me a seed of future potential than the specific thing I think I need. I ask for what I want right now – relief. But God wants to give me freedom.

Harold found that this tiny new drill “had the same torque as the older, larger, heavier drill,” allowing for “hours of overhead drilling or driving without my arm and shoulder beginning to ache.” And as he reflects on his life, Harold recognizes that “what at first disappointed me in God’s response to some request or longing actually proved to be far better than the thing or situation for which I had asked.” God always gives “greater growth, greater blessing, greater good” than we first imagined.

Here at Barclay Press, I’ve been praying for more people who might give monthly to support the work we do as publishers of truth, sharing stories that have the potential to change lives. And people do give! Little by little this last year, we’ve reduced inventory, paid down significant portions of our long-term debt, and built up a small but stable fund-reserve that’s saved us more than once. The thing is, God isn’t calling us to pay our bills (as much as that matters). God intends for us to grow and to flourish and to make a difference. So I’m taking Harold’s words to heart this morning, and I’m thanking God for knowing our work well enough to give us the tools we need, even if at first they seem too small to be of use.

Eric Muhr