The Skill Saw...
The Skill Saw
For most of my life, I have been fed a lie. For most of my life, even though the lie hasn’t tasted right, I have swallowed it down anyway, and worse, I have even fed it to others.
There were a couple of years when my family lived in Western NY. We had a house on Cedar St, which was located just a few blocks from the church school we attended. At that time I was around eleven years old, my sister Aimee was ten, and my brother Joel was eight. We often walked to and from school and had many adventures along the way.
Coming home from school one day, we discovered not only Mom’s car but also Dad’s truck in the driveway. Dad’s truck was never in the driveway before 5 PM. We ran into the house excitedly looking for him. Mom met us at the door. Dad had been in an accident.
My dad had a construction company at the time and had been on a job site. Apparently while cutting a 2×4, the skill saw snagged on the wood, bounced out of his right hand, and landed on the left. Then the saw proceeded to crawl up his arm. He had several deep gashes. The worst was his thumb, which he almost severed.
I walked into the bedroom with my brother and sister. Dad was in bed, his hand bandaged. He had been sleeping but was now awake and sitting up. He smiled at us. Then he showed us his bandages and told us how it happened, and how he should have been more careful, and how the doctors barely saved his thumb. Yes, it hurt, but he had medicine now and felt better. Yes, lots of blood…
When my dad finished explaining the accident, my brother and sister’s interest waned. Not me, I moved to the next – to me – obvious question. “Why did it happen?” I asked. I didn’t just want to know how; I had to know why. As a kid “why” was one of my favorite questions. It still seems to come up from time to time.
As a kid, I put my dad in some tough situations with that question. “Dad, why did God let Keith Green die?” “Dad, why does God let African children go hungry” And finally, “Dad, why do you think God allowed you to nearly cut your thumb off?”
My dad would have a completely different answer to that question if it were asked today. But at the time, my dad had been fed a lie about the nature of God. And it caused him to see and say things that weren’t true, so he responded, “I think God may be trying to get my attention.”
It was preposterous. But at the time, my dad believed it, and so did I. It’s not that I made an intentional theological decision regarding the nature of God, but more that I was eleven and my subconscious accepted it. The idea that my heavenly Father uses Skill saws, that He either orchestrates or just allows bad things to happen to people so He might get their attention, or teach them a lesson, or to get them to do His will – it became a part of my spiritual DNA.
Guess what? It’s bad a lie; and if you believe it, you get sick.
And this lie? It’s as old as humankind. It was birthed in the Garden of Eden and every day, both believers and unbelievers buy into it.
Like me, they swallow it down and then pass it along. In my opinion, it’s the worst kind of lie. It’s the worst because it distorts the true nature of our Heavenly Father. It implies that God is in control.
God Is Not In Control
The lie that God is in control can make us horribly sick. It can turn sons and daughters into slaves and slaves into fanatic religious dictators…
When we believe that God is about control, then we are forced to believe things that aren’t true and see things that aren’t real. That’s what happened to me. I walked around for years subtly believing that the flu was the response to some sin in my life. When my car was broken into, God let it happen to help me refocus on the disciplines of my faith. When I didn’t get the job I wanted and needed, it probably was because I didn’t love God enough. If the furnace broke in my home, God may have instigated it so I could learn how to trust Him with my finances. Or maybe He was disciplining me because of my poor financial planning. Essentially, life’s hardships were sent or allowed by my Father to teach me how to live better, stay disciplined, to love, and serve Him more.
It’s not that I didn’t see and experience the goodness of God through life’s journey. It’s just that the power of His goodness was sadly reduced to the limits enforced by the lie that existed in my heart about His nature. I was enslaved to the lie that my Heavenly Father was a controlling bi-polar fella; one day full of love, the next wielding a Skill saw. I lived insecure in my relationship with Him never sure what was next.
Whether saved or unsaved, what we believe about the nature of God determines how we relate with Him and directly affects our freedom. When we believe that our Father is about control, then when something goes wrong, someone has to be blamed. If we are believers, then, for the most part, we blame others or ourselves. For unbelievers, it’s a little easier to blame God, but the bottom line is if we believe God is about control, then when everything goes south, He gets the blame.
The news calls natural disasters “Acts of God.” And sadly, much of the church still teaches that the city struck by a disaster had it coming due to its sin. In the wake of the recent Japan disaster, I have heard every misrepresentation of God’s nature conceivable. What makes me sick is to hear it from the church. It reveals that we agree with the world’s assessment of a petty controlling God. It makes me sad… God is Love and He is always good. God didn’t send the tsunami. Period.
Here’s the thing, if we believe God is about control, it affects everything. Every experience and encounter is filtered through the insecurity of our relationship with a small God. A control-based perspective of God is evidenced by the subtle anxiety we experience in our heart when the furnace breaks down, to the blatant sense of righteousness when a rapist gets the death penalty. A control-based perspective of God forces us to say, “Japan had it coming.” Control births blame and someone has to pay.
Truth is, someone does have to pay. Truth is, He already did.
I have lived most of my life subtly believing God was in control. It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I have begun to realize with growing amazement and thankfulness that He isn’t about control at all. Quite the opposite, He is about authority. He has all authority. That’s what Jesus said in my Bible. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Jesus)… Mat 28:18.”
Jesus didn’t come, live here with us, die for us, and rise again so He could be in control. He came to claim and then give us His authority. Control and authority are two entirely different things; control operates in the reality of need, authority is about Love.
My Bible also says that it was for freedom that Jesus set me free (Gal 5:1). While control enslaves, authority sets me free. My heavenly Father has been absolutely amazing at working His freedom in me. As He has revealed His love – His presence, His goodness – I’ve begun to discover that His love conflicted greatly with the lie that was buried ever so deep in my soul. His love is always bigger than the lie.
I am daily, by faith, choosing to believe a radical truth about the nature of God. This truth has changed everything. The truth? God is Love and His love is always good – always. There is no bad in Him.
Goodness is not a sometimes deal with God. Goodness is an extension of His nature, of His love. It’s absolute; it’s not a theory or a concept. It’s a greater revelation. It’s a truth we can either believe fully or not at all. Our Heavenly Father is fully, completely good, all the time. And if we can learn to believe this, we have found the core value by which everything in life is measured. Life is about knowing His good love and then knowing more; it’s about becoming sure.
As I have decided to believe the “good news” I’ve been set free. Free to discover all the wonders of His goodness – His love…
He Values Our Thumbs
I have scanned my memory and talked in depth with my siblings. In my thorough investigation, I am confident in this next statement being absolutely 100% true. My dad never used a Skill saw on any of us to get our attention or to teach us a lesson. In fact, I am sure it never even crossed his mind. Now I realize my dad is one of the top five dads in world history, but even if he were just an average dad, I am confident the Skill saw would never have entered the equation.
If my dad wants to get my attention, he calls me by my name – the one he gave me. If he wants to teach me something, he demonstrates to me by how he lives. If he wants to impart to me, he reveals his heart through his words and acts of love. He’s always wanted the best for me and to this day he places a high value on my thumbs.
My dad loves me. He has always been there for me. He supports me, encourages me, and lifts me up in prayer. He gave me a home full of love; he provided for me and cheered me on in all my pursuits. He came to my hockey games, took me camping, dreamed with me about music, and encouraged me in business, in writing, and ministry.
But if I told you that there was one time he nearly cut my thumb off in order to get my attention, what would you think about my dad? You’d doubt the ninety-nine good stories because of the one involving a Skill saw, wouldn’t you? You would doubt his goodness, maybe not entirely, but a seed of doubt would enter your mind and from small seeds, big trees sometimes grow.
I believe there is a great shift that takes place in our hearts the day we decide to agree with the truth that our heavenly Father is always good, that His love is perfected in His goodness, and that it is impossible for a good Father to use Skill saws on his kids. When we see our Father as He truly is, we are free to discover the authority of His Love and to become sure in His love, secure in His goodness. Our authority is found when we see the true nature of our Heavenly Father and then choose to both agree and align our hearts in that revelation.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story Ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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