I am a strong believer that God uses everything that happens in life to teach us something about Himself if we will just listen to His Spirit and allow Him to instruct us. Then I search God’s Word to see what God has specifically said regarding what the Spirit has impressed upon my mind.
I am a pen turner and I love to work at my lathe. I have learned many things about life as I work at my lathe. Each step of the process in turning a piece of wood or antler into a pen is painful to the material with which I am working. The process includes cutting, drilling, shaping, sanding, polishing, friction, and pressure. But when the process is complete the material has been transformed; it has new beauty, value, and purpose. Something of little value now has greater value, all because it endured a painful process! Life is full of difficulties and it easy to become overwhelmed. But there is a purpose behind each hardship; they are all part of a process to shape and mold us into some of greater value and purpose. My desire in writing this blog is to encourage and maybe stir up some conversation with the lessons that God has been teaching me through the painful process of life. Life is hard, but God is good. May He continue working His process in my life.
If you are going to read any of my posts be sure to ready "Introduction to Lessons from the Lathe". In that post I lay out the basis for all the other blogs.
Over the years I have accumulated many sections of antler that just won't work for pen making. They are just too large, too curved, too small, or in some other don't fit the requirements necessary for making a pen. I have often thought, "What am I going to do with all these antler section?"
Awhile ago I started cutting the pieces that were too big into smaller sections and began selling them as dog chews; I felt it was better for them to be chewed on that to sit in shop collecting dust. But as I cut there were some that were just too nice; I couldn't see such beautiful material being destroyed. So I did some research into knife making and decided that I would give it a try. I like the results so far; you can check them out on my Steiner Gifts and More Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/steinergiftsandmore.
From the same antler I can create a pen, a knife, or a dog chew. The pen has beauty, value, and purpose. People enjoy the unique look and feel of an antler pen. They are willing to pay good money to own one. The antler-handled knife is much desired and sought after by deer hunting enthusiasts and outdoorsmen. Yet the dog chew has no less value and purpose than the knife or the pen. Each has value, each has purpose; even if it just to meet the need of a dog for something to chew on!
As I thought about this I was reminded of an early "Lesson from the Lathe"
Why did you make me this way?
September 24, 2009 at 11:19am
I find myself asking God that far too often. It is a habit I picked up as a child and have carried over into my adult life. “Why am I so fat?” “Why am I so uncool?” “Why am I so emotional?” “Why I am I so…?” The list goes on and on! Lately the “whys” have been in regard to my health, my career or lack thereof, and my family.
I was reading in Isaiah 45 this morning, “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”
When I work in the shop with antlers, I am the one who determines what I am going to make from a particular antler. Some will be slim line pens, others signature pens, and some will be fancy quill pens. I will look at the natural characteristics of each antler and determine how best to use it. Those antlers that refuse to submit to my will end up in the scrap pile where they stay until I can determine some other use for them.
I don’t want to end up in God’s scrap pile, waiting for some second choice purpose. I want to experience all that God has designed for me. Father, help me to stop complaining and start submitting to Your plan. I have learned that the process of becoming what You desire is not always easy or pleasant. The process involves painful cutting away and drill out of things that don’t belong. It involves course sanding to smooth away all the imperfections.
When I finish a pen, I take great pride in the way it turns out. When that pen is purchased and put to its intended purpose there is great joy. When someone looks at that pen and admires my workmanship there is satisfaction. I wonder if I am bringing as much satisfaction to God?
The process may be painful but in the end it will be worth it! Until then I need to ask a little less “why”!
Over the next few days I want to share some further thoughts regarding God's sovereignty, God's process and attention to detail, and fulfilling God's purpose. Here area few portions of scripture that I will be considering: