Years ago, my dad used to tell a joke about an old wood cutter who bought his first chainsaw after years of cutting wood by hand with a cross-cut saw. After a few days he returned it to the dealer and said that his “old way was better”. He said that the chainsaw was heavy, awkward, and clumsy…and he actually cut LESS wood with it in a day than he did with his old cross cut saw. Now my dad was a bit of a story teller, so at this point my father would send the poor wood cutter out earlier and earlier every morning for a week for a week as the chainsaw dealer PROMISED him that it was IMPOSSIBLE to cut less wood with a gasoline powered chainsaw than it was by hand with a manual cross-cut saw. (Yeah…I know, this really is not the funniest “joke”…but my dad loved it, and I am actually coming to a point) :-) Finally, the disgusted wood-cutter brings the chainsaw back and demands a refund because he STILL is not able to cut as much wood as he had before with just the power of his arms. Just before the Chainsaw salesman returns his money he starts the chainsaw up to make SURE that it is still functioning properly (my dad would have made the chainsaw sound here) which made the old wood cutter yell out…wait for it…wait for it…this is the punchline: “WHAT’S THAT SOUND?” “WHAT’S THAT SOUND?”
Ok, that was admittedly a terrible joke…but it’s just as clumsy, disappointing, and frustrating for a christian to try to live without the POWER of God in their life, as it is to try to cut wood with a chainsaw without starting the engine! (For you “yuppie folk” :-) trust me…it doesn’t work very well…at all!) I’m convinced that MANY of our toughest “complaints” and questions for God come out of this very situation…minus the chainsaw. We try to do things in our own strength. We follow our own path. We do things exactly the way we used to before we met Jesus…and then “invite” God to help us succeed. We then become frustrated with the results and head back to our local “God dealer” because in our heart we know that it just doesn’t “work”…we can’t “force God” to do what we want him to do.
Being a follower of Christ is never an easy thing. It’s a FACT that doing the right thing is usually HARDER than doing the wrong thing. But, if we listen to the spirit…if we follow him where he leads us…if we say as Jesus did: “not my will, but YOURS” to God…it is amazing what we can do in HIS power. Sort of like starting up a chainsaw…or a leaf blower…or a weed eater. Ok, it’s a terrible joke…and perhaps an even worse analogy..but I hope it makes you ask yourself these two questions:
Am I living life experiencing God’s power as he helps me do the things HE called and designed me to do?
Am I living life trying to coax God into joining my team…being part of my efforts…trying to get him to help me do what I want to do?
The answer to that question is even more life-changing than the answer to “WHAT’S THAT SOUND?!”
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)