Years ago, iconic former speaker of the house, Sam Rayburn, made an astute observation (paraphrased): “(Anyone) can kick over a barn door. It takes a carpenter to build one.”
What truth that offers for us today. Anyone can rail against something or someone, ridicule them, and point out every negative aspect of another position. But it takes a peacemaker, a skilled craftsman, to build something positive and lasting. I don’t know if Rayburn considered the double entendre of his use of the word carpenter. Jesus, of course, grew up as a skilled carpenter. And he is still crafting and sculpting his followers with his creative and purposeful skills. In fact, he gave us his own Spirit to live in us to guide us, convict us, comfort us, and intercede for us.
The question is, are we willing participants in this process? Or are we resistive materials in his hands? Do we tend to, like wayward and stubborn sheep, go our own way or do we listen to and follow our master’s voice? The bible describes us like clay in the potters hand. Are we moldable and able to be shaped according to his purpose, or do we have our ambitions set on being a certain type of vessel, quite apart from his design?
The many versions of the Christian prayer attributed to 13th century Saint Francis of Assisi speak to this. Some versions mention being an instrument of God’s peace; others a vessel:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Being an instrument or vessel that conveys God’s peace requires the surrender of our lesser ambitions and desires for God’s greater will. It requires attuning our mind and heart to his loving voice, and to being an eager disciple of his teaching. And in doing so, to let his light actively shine into the lives of others. Choose today to be a vessel of God’s peace and truth, his unending love and amazing grace. Let the master carpenter mold you into his likeness so you can carry his peace to others.
“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” 1 Samuel 12:23