"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let the Knife Do Its Work

By Micky Wolf

One way I enjoy relaxing after a full day is to watch a favorite television chef prepare a culinary delight. An expression you will hear from time to time, regardless of who is in the kitchen, is let the knife do its work. This sage bit of advice is not exclusive to cooking. Ask anyone with some knowledge and experience in their particular field and you will hear something similar. Whether it involves the carpenter selecting a certain saw for the density of teeth, or the teacher’s insights of a student’s strengths or weaknesses, various tools and skills serve unique purposes for the task at hand.
From a spiritual standpoint, we would be wise to consider the two-edged sword as the knife to be wielded by our loving, compassionate God. Wait a minute—I sense the desire to vacate the premises with great haste. But, let’s take a moment and look a bit closer at what this might mean for those desiring to be Christ-followers.
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
[Matthew 10:34]

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
[Hebrews 4:12]

Sure, deft strokes
Accepting God’s will and design that Jesus be sent among us to bring a sword can be a bit unnerving, to say the least. After all, isn’t God all about the business of peace? Yes. But given our fallen, sinful nature, it is necessary for Him to use, if you will, what seems at times to be anything but a peaceful approach. Why?
God will not impose healing and peace upon us, but rather will move within our hearts to bring it about as we choose to cooperate with His refining and sanctifying heart-work. The seed of this kind of peace that surpasses all understanding, so very needed in our angry and hurting world, is too often buried in the darkest places of our soul. The way through that darkness is to surrender to the Master’s Hand, our compassionate, loving, God who longs to cut away the un-good in order to bring the good, His good, into the light.
Even with the finest of ingredients, the chef will find it necessary to cut, size, sort, and shape. By gently holding his razor sharp tools, he moves through them with precision and grace, often in a matter of moments. We marvel at his finished work, not unlike God our Father, as He wields the Sword of Truth in Love. Attitudes of anger, jealousy, envy, lust? Cut and remove. Behaviors of selfishness or self-righteousness? Cut and remove.
Staying put during the process
Great chefs often remind us of the importance of sharp knives and how to keep them that way, unless you want to end up with shredded or torn cuts of meat and vegetables, or worse, pieces of flesh or fingers.
The sword of the Lord—the Word of God that is living and active—is as sharp as they come. Ponder again, the description of this Divine Instrument:
“…it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit; joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart…”
The process of dividing soul and spirit asks of us to be still to allow God to penetrate to the depths of our being in order to divide and separate the clean from the unclean, the flesh of the sinful nature from the goodness of the Holy Spirit. The less we squirm and wiggle or put up our spiritual fists to resist the strokes of the blade, the less pain and prolonged suffering of our own making. Interestingly enough, our joints and the marrow surrounding them are situated in such a way as to be some of the most sensitive areas of our body, quickly responsive to the lightest touch of hot, cold, or pressure.
Revealing the good
Trimming away any fat, gristle, or tough parts of a prime cut of meat is par for the course for a good chef. God works in a similar fashion if we allow him to do so. When God nudges us to let Him cut away the excess weight and baggage of our soulish and sinful ways, He can then reveal the authentic good, the authentic self. He transforms. He renews our minds. He replaces our stony hearts with a heart of Love.
Allowing the knife to do its work, when wielded by the hand of our loving God, may not always feel good, physically, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually. However, if we can remember the work of this sword is to fashion us more and more into His image and likeness, we can rest in the assurance His every ‘penetrating divide’ serves a higher purpose far beyond any momentary discomfort.
May we allow the sword its work in the hands of the Master.
Can I recall a good or bad experience using a knife?
Can I recall an experience of being under God’s knife?
How did, or does that feel?
Do I resist His sure, deft strokes? Why?
Do I believe God desires to reveal the good in me?         

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