Using what you have to do what needs to be done

Playl's Ponderings


“YES!” The one-word affirmative answer was bursting with unmistakable excitement, even though it was just one word, passed from a phone to a tower, bounced off a satellite to another tower and ringing from the speaker of Sammie’s cellphone.

“YES!” The excitement demanded clarification, further explanation.

Nahnee had asked Katie Grace if she’d had a good day, and the eagerness in K.G.’s voice begged to share more detail; so Nahnee continued, “Tell me all about it! What made it such a wonderful day?”

I think the grandmother was expecting news about a new boyfriend or a leading role in another musical drama or a record contract or something. She was a little surprised when our stinking cute, 7-and-a-half year old granddaughter continued her story. “Mom bought me a shovel, one with a long handle.”

Turns out they had stopped at Harris Teeter Grocery on the way home from school, and there it was: a long-handle shovel, at the store entrance, with all the beach toys and supplies. With beaches adjoining their city, that kind of stuff is readily available. K.G. had lots of shovels and buckets that required a kneeling position in the sand, but...”I’ve been asking for a long-handle shovel for a long time!”

Upon further interrogation, Katie revealed her plans for the newly-acquired tool. She hoped to find buried treasure, maybe bury some of her own treasure; then, perhaps she could plant a garden in her back yard or start some construction project. The possibilities sounded unlimited.

All it takes is the right tool in the right hands...right?

How about the tools we need to “get the job done” in our spiritual life? Sometimes our spiritual tools are weapons with which to fight spiritual battles. Paul lists the weapons or tools needed to fight our spiritual battles as Christians. “Put on the whole armor of God...” he wrote in his letter to the Ephesians. The list includes truth, righteousness, preparedness found in the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, prayer, and perseverance.

Certainly we are in a spiritual battle, daily, and we need armor to defend ourselves and weapons to fight the fight. But we are also called to do a work for our Master, and tools are needed for both warfare and work. To faithfully serve God in our daily walk and work, the two most necessary tools are prayer and the Word of God.

Paul told Timothy to study to prove his ability as a worker and learn to “rightly divide” the word of truth. As workers,, we must have tools, and we must learn how to use them, and we must use them for the right purpose.

So far, Katie Grace has used her long handle shovel to bury a craft project from school in her backyard. We’ll see how that works out.

Moses had a rod - a stick - and, with the power of God, he introduced plagues to the Egyptians, parted the waters of the Red Sea, delivered the children of Israel from bondage, brought forth drinking water from a rock, and guided a huge crowd of people through the desert...after God got his attention by turning the stick into a snake and telling Moses to pick it up by the tail. I’d much rather have a Bible in my hand, and in my heart, than a rod that might become a snake. Wouldn’t you?

What’s in your hand? Will you use it to serve God? 

Steve Playl, columnist, college instructor, and retired pastor and chaplain, may be reached at   


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here