A parable for parents.
There once was a chisel.
When the Carpenter was not using him, which was not very often, he could always be found in the top tray of the toolbox, under the apron, right next to the Carpenter’s pencil. You could be sure to find him there because he was one of the first and favorite tools the Carpenter reached for in most woodworking projects.
The chisel’s purpose was to remove the obvious, unneeded things from the wood that obscured its true identity and purpose. His effect on the wood was defining. If the wood was to be a spoon, the chisel would slice away the large, square corners until the spoon began to appear. If a peg needed to be fit into a hole the chisel would shape both hole and peg, sliver by sliver until the two fit together “just right.”
He took off rough edges.
He chipped away corners.
He whittled away splinters.
The chisel made rough, undefined wood into something recognizable and useful as only he could do.
With all this chipping and scraping and whittling you might think the chisel was unfeeling toward the wood. But you would be very mistaken.
The chisel loved the wood deeply. He loved its sweet fragrance and soft texture. He loved that it could be shaped but still retain its firm yet grainy character. He loved that it was usually receptive toward his efforts to make it into what it was meant to be. Some pieces were harder than others and required a firmer or more diligent touch, but he’d learned that his patient and loving perseverance with such pieces would produce great results in the end.
As the Carpenter’s hands moved him toward a fresh piece of wood he would often imagine what the wood could become, what it should be. Many times what he dreamed in the beginning actually did come true. He loved to see it happen. Over the years he had imagined and created canes and carvings, statues and stair rails, and many, many other beautiful things that brought a smile to the Carpenter’s face.
But the hardest thing for the chisel was when the Carpenter put him down. It always happened, eventually, and the chisel was never pleased when it did. He wanted to remain in the Carpenter’s hands, refining the wood, making it better, having some control and influence in its shaping. He wanted it both because of his love for the wood and because in every project he felt a sense of ownership, that the wood somehow belonged to him because he had been the one to define its shape and highlight its purpose. It was hard to let go, hard to see another tool being used on his wood, and he did not like it.
One day after the Carpenter had placed the chisel back into the top tray of the toolbox, right next to His pencil, the Carpenter, who was very discerning, noticed that the chisel was not happy. He knew what was bothering the chisel, nevertheless He asked him to explain his sadness. The chisel poured out his longings to the Carpenter.
With a sad smile and firm word the Carpenter spoke.
But you must understand first of all that you are My tool. Your usefulness is utilized at My discretion and for My purposes. If I did not take you up, to channel My creativity and skill through you, you would be nothing. Though you are important, to Me and to the wood, you are still only a tool. Never forget that.
Secondly, you must realize your limitations. As important as you are, you are not designed to accomplish everything I have in mind for the wood. No matter how good a chisel you are, you cannot do the detail work, the fine sanding, the staining, the refining things that complete what you have begun. You simply are not capable of all that is needed to make the wood what I intend it to be. That too is something you must never forget.
Finally, you must accept that My plan for the wood is what matters in the end. Though you care deeply for the wood you must understand that I determine it’s design, purpose, and final use, and I determine how to best accomplish that. You must learn to trust that I alone know how to bring it about and that I will bring it about in My own time and own way. Such things are too great for you to fully understand. Chisel, don’t forget that.
Remember these three, chisel. It is only in My hand that you make a difference. The difference you do make is very important, but also very limited. And it is only according to My plan that the wood can fully become what I desire.
You must learn to trust Me.
With those words sounding loudly in his mind the chisel was nestled back into the top tray of the toolbox, next to the Carpenter’s pencil.