Over this last week I've been gradually moving my belongings into my new flat.
Deliveries have been arriving.
I've been painting furniture. Moving furniture. Realising I have way too many books. And shoes. Cleaning. And cleaning. And building stuff.
Stuff like kitchen shelving.
Now, despite having a Father who excels in virtually any practical trade ever created, I am yet to find my gifting in this particular area. Painting and design and colours are up my street. Activities that involve screwdrivers or hammers and drills…. Not so much.
Hence why I don't actually own a screwdriver or a hammer or a drill. Of any variety.
Being the wonderfully-ever-prepared individual that I am… I unwrapped, laid out, and tentatively began the job of piecing together the entirety of my kitchen shelving before turning to page 2 of the (Japanese) instruction manual and realising that I didn't just need one type of screwdriver, but three, in order to complete the task at hand.
Epic fail Peta.
Never to be put off or deterred, my next step was one that I'm sure many highly-intelligent individuals have taken over the years… You know? See what else you have in your house that can double up as a make-shift screwdriver?
The closest (or indeed only) thing I could find was a knife. A 'knife and fork' style knife, best used and designed for eating stuff like jacket potatoes and roast chicken.
So there were my choices.
Did I leave the shelving in pieces covering the majority of my living area, admit defeat and go and buy some proper building tools? Or did I try to wing it with the knife and see what happened? Or did I just pray that there would be some kind of divine intervention that would solve the problem?
Winging it seemed like the best option. With a little bit of prayer on the side.
So I began to screw things together using a knife. Which now became a highly effective screwdriver.
Believe me, it really was effective.
Piece by piece, I actually managed to build those shelves in 20 minutes. Which is a personal record for me successfully building anything without assistance.
Seemingly my single, measly looking old eating utensil can whip the job of three screwdrivers with it's eyes shut.
Building shelves like a boss.
Upon Peta's-weird-brain-reflection, I've actually been thinking that I live my life like this sometimes.
Because, as I sit here in Japan, knowing all that God has spoken, and feeling His joy, and trusting His promises and remembering what He has called me to, I am faced with similar choices.
I can wait until I feel competent before I try and build anything. I can use excuses like 'I need to be better at Japanese' or 'I need to understand more culturally.' Or I can pray for divine intervention alone but leave the metaphorical pieces of what He's asking me to do spread out across the metaphorical living room floor. Or, I can get on with the job, prayerfully trusting that even when I feel totally out of purpose or ill equipped, He will always enable me to fulfil that which He calls me to.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's good to be prepared. I want to learn Japanese. I want to understand the culture. I work hard at these things. And I want to be a woman of prayer who prays more than I do. I totally believe that those prayers powerfully unlock the keys we need to see breakthrough in lives and hearts and communities.
But… And here's the but. If you're like me (which I'm betting some of you are), you can use some of those things as a type of spiritual procrastination for not doing the things God is asking of you. I mean, if I wait until I am perfect before I start building for Jesus, if I wait until I feel like I pray enough, or until my motivations are pure enough, or until my language is fluent enough, then I'm going to never do very much.
But so often when we pray for God to send an answer to the problems of this world, He replies, 'I already did. I made you. I called you. I'll equip you…'
And so often I reply, 'But Lord, do you not know? Can you not see? I'm a kitchen knife. I'm made for eating chicken and potato and other western-style food. I belong in a secret-prayer-drawer with the other cutlery. I don't do shelf building… I can't…'
But the thing is. That's the way it was meant to be. It was never about us feeling strong enough. It was always about us trusting a God who is strong enough.
I'm a hot mess without Him.
But I'm a hot mess that He loves with a love that shakes the cosmos.
My testimony involves some messy-kind of redemption. Well, the redemption isn't messy because God is the one who runs that show… But the mess… That's messy. When I talk about the rescue of my Father and the transformation of Holy Spirit, it means I have to be real about abuse and divorce and being saved from a depression so black I didn't think I'd ever see the sunrise again. It means I talk about failure. And rejection. And freaking out when I should be standing strong. And getting so many things wrong before I start to get them right. And all these kinds of ugly words that we are so often too scared to use in daily conversation.
It means I admit that I get scared sometimes. That I don't have all the answers most of the time. That the only good in me is that which Jesus so patiently plants and grows and waters.
I feel like a kitchen knife being asked to build the shelving.
And it seems impossible.
But it isn't.
Because nothing is impossible for Him.
Which is why my story of redemption doesn't end in the mess but in the redemptive joy of a life restored and a heart healed and more joy and love in every day than I ever thought possible.
He's so good at building lives.
Like a boss.
He's totally and completely trustworthy in every possible way.
So, and here's me coming into land, He can have my heart. And He can have my life. And He can take it all for His glory.
Let's let Him use us for building!
Many men will drink the rainAnd turn to thank the clouds
Many men will hear You speak
But they will never turn around
Many men will pour their good
And serve a thing that shines
Many men will read Your words
But they will never change their minds
But I will not forget
You are my God, my King
With a thankful heart I bring my offering
My sacrifice is not what You can give
But what I alone can give to You.