Everyday Usefulness

I was sharing a meal with a friend the other night, and he told me how when he was a teenager, he and a friend of his started asking God to make them useful for everyday opportunities. He shared that they both worked on engines, and that their “go-to” tool was either a 1/2 inch or 9/16 wrench, as most of the jobs they worked on involved those common sized nuts or bolts. To be sure, they would use the full set of wrenches, but the most common, the ones that were most in their hands on any particular day, were one of those two wrenches. So they started praying, “God, make us a 1/2 inch or 9/16 inch wrench today.” It was their way of practically, and personally saying to God “we don’t want to watch from the sidelines, we don’t want to just be used sparingly, we want to be in your hands on a regular basis, and be used as much as we can.”

I love it. If you knew my friend, he is one of the most humble, unassuming, down-to-earth kind of guys I know. He doesn’t self-promote. He isn’t the center of attention. But he has been used in so many people’s lives to encourage, to meet a need, to speak truth, to listen, and to give wise counsel. He’s a servant, no job being beneath him. He’s a leader, but more by example than by positioning himself over others. And almost everyone I know at the fellowship I’m a part of has been touched in some way by him, most often behind the scenes. Many have got a story of how he made a difference when they really needed it. He would be quick to tell you that it isn’t him, rather that it’s God, which is true, to a large extent. But it’s also true that he started praying years ago to be used by God, and that is what makes the difference between him and others. He’s a 9/16 inch wrench. Not an 7mm, nor a 13/16 inch. And he is positioned to be used whenever the Master Mechanic reaches for him. And He reaches for him a lot.

I see an irony in his prayer to be a wrench. It is just an ordinary, everyday item. I had to laugh the next day when I was looking for a 9/32, and seemed to come across every size but the one I needed. I kept thinking of how my friend’s prayer was such a practical one, out of a heart that is yearning to be used, and how it brings glory to God to be readily positioned in His hands. I thought of the passage in 1 Corinthians that says that God “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29)

Many may make excuses and come up with reasons to not be readily available to the work God wants to get done through them, because it tends to be messy and is often a thankless job. But my friend is a faithful, available, and trustworthy tool in God’s hands, and he deflects any attention he might get, refocusing it properly onto God. You find yourself praising God for the work He is doing through an ordinary, common-sized wrench. Sure, there are specialty tools that get used every now and then for a rare project, but I’ve learned to appreciate so much more the well-worn, often greasy, readily accessible wrench. Like Paul said, it almost seems foolish, weak, lowly and despised, but its the one God chooses because of its everyday usefulness.

Consider praying a similar prayer, and see what God does through it.

Just get ready to be used a lot.