Cooperating with God's Grace
You must cooperate with God’s grace. You can’t just sit back and not participate in your role and your responsibilities.
I’m handy at building and fixing things. I like using tools and I think it’s an important skill for a person to have. I take a lot of pride in my work. I understand the importance of using the right tool for the job. I never ‘eyeball’ a measurement, I’m always measuring twice and cutting once. I like making sure that everything is plumb and square, and I would never intentionally sacrifice quality. I’ll never be satisfied to say something is ‘good enough’ and honestly, I cringe when I hear other people use that term.
This past Christmas I wanted to give my 15-month-old daughter, Charlotte, something special. I decided to build her a wooden rocking horse. It would be a labor of love, built with my own hands. Something that Charlotte could pass down to her children. Hopefully they will cherish and care for it enough to hand it down through future generations.
I spent a good bit of time sorting through piles of wood, choosing which pieces to buy. I specifically searched for pieces of pine with lots of grain and contrast and when I went to cut the wood, I tried to get as many interesting grain patterns onto each of the final pieces that I would use to make the horse. It was a very deliberate process.
It took hours to cut all the pieces of wood into the right shapes and sizes with my scroll saw, and it took weeks to sand all the pieces by hand. I was reluctant to use electric sanding tools because I wanted a handmade look. All the pieces of wood needed to be fitted closely and evenly together but, not so close and even that it would be confused with factory machine work. The slight variance in fit between the pieces was intentional so that upon close inspection it would become apparent that it was in fact made by someone’s hand. Sanding by hand left a random nuanced shape to areas of the wood and gave the horse a ‘one of a kind’ quality.
I worked methodically for weeks and never rushed any stage of the process, only moving forward as things were completed perfectly. I glued and clamped the final piece (the saddle) onto the finished horse late at night on Christmas eve. It would be dry by the morning for Charlotte to rock on it and then after Christmas I would complete the horse by covering it with multiple layers of polyurethane to bring out the grain and protect the wood for all the years to come.
I went through a very deliberate process when I decided to build this rocking horse for Charlotte. I didn’t just throw my hands in the air and say, ‘well if God really wants Charlotte to have a beautiful rocking horse then I’ll just sit here and drink another beer and see if one magically appears’
Everything comes from God. By His grace we all have unique gifts and talents and He expects us to use them, He expects us to participate and cooperate with His grace and not just sit casually and comfortably as the world passes us by. Use the gifts that you have been given in a productive way for your good and the good of those around you.
People amaze me sometimes with the things they choose to be very deliberate about in their lives and then with the things they choose to deny any responsibility for. Often, they deny their responsibility for things that require commitment, discipline and extra effort on their part. They might say things like ‘well if God really wants that for me then there’s nothing I need to do except wait for Him to take care of it’
It would be like me saying ‘yeah I want to be the principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but I’m not going to actually practice and diligently prepare for the audition, I’m just going to show up and leave it up to God’
Well God gave me this gift of being good at building and fixing things, I’m going to cooperate with this gift.
God has given me a gift for playing the trumpet and making music, I’m going to cooperate with this gift as well. I’m going to practice and put in the work required to be a great trumpeter and musician.
I thank God every day for everything. I’m not blind to all that He provides for me. I’ll cooperate with His grace and I’ll play my part too. I’ll nurture the gifts He has given me.