THE MASTER CARPENTER
Forty-one years ago, my then, three-year-old son came to me with toy hammer in hand and tears streaming down his cheeks, "Look what Melissa has done! She put marks on my new hammer. Now it's no good! I can't use it any more!" I looked at the hammer that was once perfect and new, but was now covered with scratches and marks of every kind. Quickly, I silently prayed and asked God for wisdom in encouraging my young son.
"Matthew, don't be sad that your hammer has scratches and isn't perfect anymore, because now it has character. It no longer looks like other hammers; it looks like it helped you build a lot of things."
My son's eyes widened with delight and said, "Now I can tell the difference between my hammer and Timmy's hammer."
Like a hammer that shows the marks of use or even misuse, our lives reflect the marks of mistakes, difficulties, loss, disappointments, tragedies, and often circumstances that have been unfairly thrust upon us. Fortunately, God is faithful to gift us with a crown of beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. We are His oaks of righteousness, planted to display His splendor (Isaiah 61:3). That glorious splendor is seen in the story of Joseph when God planted him in a place, not of his own choosing.
Joseph, at the hands of his jealous brothers, was unjustly sold into a life of slavery and imprisonment in Egypt. However, God's hand was upon Joseph, who loved God. After 13 years in Potiphar's house and in prison for a crime that he had been falsely accused of, Pharaoh recognized Joseph to be a man of great wisdom, discernment and integrity and through a series of events, eventually promoted him as second in command, “Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:37-45).
A great famine took place throughout the land, so when Joseph's brothers traveled to Egypt to buy grain, they stood before Joseph, not recognizing him. When he finally revealed his identity, they were fearful, but Joseph embraced his brothers and said, "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive" (Genesis 50:20 NKJ). What seemed to have been horrendous, unfair, and unjustifiable events in Joseph's life, proved to be God's plan to elevate Joseph to a position of power and authority in order to save the Jewish nation.
Like my son, who at first glance, believed his hammer was useless because it was marred, we sometimes see the scars and mistakes of our lives and wonder how God can possibly use us. But it is those scars that make us unique, reminding us of pain conquered, lessons learned, strength renewed, and our ability to put the past in perspective and move forward. For we know that we serve a mighty God who has all power and authority to bring forth His intended good in our lives, regardless of the circumstances. If we entrust our life experiences into His hands, we discover the beauty that is represented in those striations of our lives. As useful tools in the hands of the Master Carpenter, we see the intrinsic value in the things we have suffered and overcome. Through this, our character develops and conforms to His character, and we become all that He has called us to be.