Banging Boards vs. Driving Nails

For some time now I’ve felt like something is brewing in my life. My mind went radical places, like “Oh gosh, I’m going to have to move to a foreign country where the food staple is giant bugs straight off the vine!” or “What if I’m being called to work as a cart chaser in the Wal-Mart parking lot so that I learn how to really serve?” I wasn’t quite sure which I’d rather: a blue vest with a smiley sticker…or a crunchy bug leg stuck between my teeth.

Recently, however, a light bulb of a different color popped above my head. It said this: You’re a Student, not a Teacher. Huh? I had to rub my eyes a few times (which, of course, resulted in all sorts of black mascara and eyeliner smudged under my eyes). When they adjusted, I looked at the quote bubble above my head. Again it read: You’re a Student, not a Teacher.

This wasn’t making sense. I never said I was a Teacher! Who said I thought I was a Teacher? And by the way, Mr. Quote Bubble, DUH I’m a student. I’m the one that signed up for my college courses. But something told me that wasn’t the kind of student this revelation meant…

Here’s how it began: I was in charge of preparing a devotion for 20 college students on Young Life staff. I had titled my devotion “Banging Boards vs. Driving Nails”. The analogy I thought of was that we all have a pile of wood in front of us…a life or a ministry that needs to be built. Often we take our hammers and start pounding away at our piles of wood – diving into different activities and making plans (generally all “good things”) but the ministry or task just keeps falling apart. It doesn’t hold together; so we hammer harder and longer and with different tools. As it turns out, hammering harder means nothing if you don’t have nails.

I had just read the books of Luke and Acts. I’ve done this once before, taken a day and read straight through them as if they were a novel, because Dr. Luke also wrote Acts – it’s his “continuing story”. I was fascinated by Jesus’ ministry. Although I’ve read all his stories many times, when I saw the whole thing unfold I began to see His radical humility, how His head never spun out of control with details, His schedule never controlled Him but He controlled His schedule. Things got done and things didn’t get done. He didn’t heal everyone and He didn’t heal just anyone. But all the things that DIDN’T get done didn’t send Him into a panic. His touch had purpose, His words had power, and His times of prayer were many and deep. Jesus was good at “Driving Nails”. He took well-thought-out words and drove them like a nail into His wood. Any task at hand was like a nail being hammered with one SMACK into His board. No Banging Boards without a nail. Always one nail, being locked into place with one firm swing.

Today I don’t have any bug legs in my teeth. I’m not sitting here wearing a blue vest (yet!) – No, today my outfit of choice is a Dunce cap. You know, the tall pointy hat that the student who didn’t quite “get it” must wear in the corner. I’m headed to the sidelines for awhile. It’s time to reform this identity, before I start pounding away at my pile of boards.

I’d like to stop Banging Boards and I’d like to start Driving Nails. But first I need to take a little Student 101 – repeat course, actually. Luckily my Teacher doesn’t keep permanent records…

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