Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

The chainsaw principle

WHEN DEADLINES loom, writer’s block is a luxury you can’t really afford. Nevertheless, there are times when I find myself staring at a blank screen and willing words to somehow magically appear.

Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of things to break the impasse. Get up and make a cup of tea. Take a quick walk around the block. Work a crossword for a few minutes. Write a letter to a fictitious aunt, telling her what I’m supposed to be writing about (when you have finished, delete the opening greeting and you have a very rough first draft).

Each of these has yielded some results, but I am sad to admit that prayer doesn’t always immediately spring to mind. Not that it’s an abracadabra answer to everything, but turning to God in whatever situation you’re dealing with isn’t a bad move.

Problem is, I have a tendency to compartmentalize life a bit. There’s stuff that I can handle and then everything else. While the latter list is much longer than the former, there are some things in which I have a certain amount of confidence. So I just get on with them, without always thinking of asking for God’s help.

Now, those talents and giftings came from Him in the first place, of course. But how might they be better exercised if I don’t just use them, but look to supercharge them?

I’m reminded of the story of the guy who applied for a job cutting trees. He received a chainsaw and a three-day trial, having to cut down 50 trees in a day. The first day he managed 25, the second 32, and the last 44.

Exhausted and dispirited, he went to return the chainsaw to the employer, who said although he couldn’t take the guy on, he’d pay a small commission for effort—once he’d checked the equipment. The employer fired the chainsaw into life and the job-seeker jumped back in alarm.

“What’s that!” he cried.

He (and I) could have done well to learn a lesson from King Solomon: Things work better when they are properly powered.

Solomon is known for being the wisest man who ever lived, of course—a gift God bestowed on him when, as the new king of Israel, Solomon asked for help in ruling above anything else. But he made the request even though he was already a pretty smart guy.

When Solomon’s father, King David, was preparing him for succession to the throne, the older man twice noted his son’s giftedness. “Act therefore according to your wisdom,” David said (1 Kings 2:6). And, a little later: “You are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do . . . ” (1 Kings 2:9).

But Solomon knew that he couldn’t rely on his natural abilities. He recognized that he needed God to inhabit and empower them. And funnily enough, when God answered his prayer, he used the ancient Israel equivalent of a chainsaw to solve his first big test.

Remember how two women came to Solomon claiming a baby boy to be theirs?

“Divide the… child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other,” he ordered (1 Kings 3:22). The real mother offered to give up her child so he might live, of course, and everyone “stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice” (1 Kings 3:28).

If only I knew to first ask for help, I might be able to handle some equally sticky situations. Or, at least, a blank page like this one started out as.

Photo by Intensivtäteraggressor on Foter.com/CC BY-NC-ND

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