Tools are not perfect. Anyone who works with computers knows this. Experience has led me to this conclusion: technology is great, except when it is not. Printers mysteriously go offline; no one knows why. Browsers and word processors flow like molasses and sometimes reach the solid state, freezing entirely. One learns to restart the program, then restart the computer. Our old wireless router became decrepit late in its life. It had good days and bad days. It might function perfectly for several consecutive days, and then suddenly need rebooting every ten minutes. When I replaced it a few weeks ago, I immediately wondered why I waited so long. Surfing the ’net is now a seamless journey through cyberspace with no worries about video buffering or interrupted downloads.
Technology is a fickle servant. I have often wondered how many hours I have spent waiting for my mouse pointer to stop spinning, for programs to open, or for websites to display their homepage. In those moments, I produce nothing, become frustrated, and further reduce my production capacity. I could accomplish much more if I were not working with such sluggish tools. I bought a new computer in April, because my laptop became unbearably slow. It was over four years old, well past middle age in the computer life-cycle. Work is much more productive when my tools function efficiently.
This same lesson applies in woodworking. Sharp saws actually cut through boards rather than burning through them. Healthy batteries make cordless drilling effortless. Conversely, breaking drill bits can mar the wood and slow the process. I can work with imperfect tools when necessary—dull blades, weak batteries, and breaking drill bits—but nothing beats breezing through a project with good tools.
I pity the person who shows up for work wondering if the tools will cooperate that day. When my daughter was ready to get her driver’s license last year, we drove thirty minutes to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The clerk there informed us that her computers were down and she could not help us; she had no idea when the system in Raleigh would be back online. All she could do was apologize to everyone who came in. We had to drive an additional hour to another DMV office.
Sometimes tools behave as if they have minds of their own. Not only computers, but cars, appliances, and audio equipment may seem to choose whether or not they will function. We use these tools routinely and work around whatever problems they cause. We curse them, call them temperamental, and eventually, we may replace them.
Consider that this is the kind of tool God has to work with. He chooses to use His people to bring His kingdom. However, we have good days and bad days. We sometimes choose not to work. We become dull and run down. Unlike our tools, God’s tools actually choose whether or not to cooperate. Amazingly, God uses us imperfect, temperamental, rebellious tools to share His good news through the ages. Patiently, with us He builds His kingdom day by day, person by person. Though we may be stubborn, hardheaded, and defiant, He loves us and advances His kingdom in us and through us. He accomplishes His purposes and somehow uses our mistakes and sins in the process.
God can take a crooked stick and draw a straight line. He knows that we are crooked sticks and He loves us anyway. In fact, He cares much more about us than our productivity.
So, we parents can take a deep breath and know that God can use us. He knows our imperfections and He still entrusts little children to our care. We have good days and bad days in teaching and parenting and somehow God uses us to raise up the next generation. We want to be cooperative, sharp, charged tools, ready for Jesus to use. By His grace we can become more like Him and more useful to Him.
If we can accomplish work with our frustrating tools, surely God can use us for His purposes, the work to which He has called us. He is bringing His kingdom, using us in the process. Only God can do that, and He doesn’t even get frustrated.