Points To Ponder Sit Down And Sharpen Your Axe
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
In the busyness of the holiday season it is good to reflect on a story told by Dr. Tony Evans about two lumberjacks. One was an experienced older man who had many years in the trade, but seemed to be rather slow, at least in the view of the other man.
The other man was young and energetic. He knew how to cut down trees as well, and he believed he could take on the older man and surpass his production. So he challenged his elder to a contest: see who can cut down the most trees in one day of work.
The young man was fast and strong; and off he went. One tree and then a little later another, then another, would fall. Meanwhile, the older man would cut a few, then he would take a break. Every hour, he was taking a 15 or 20 minute break. The sweat was pouring off the young man as he would glance over in the distance and see the old man taking yet another break.
At the end of the day however, when the final tally was taken, the older, slower man had more trees to his credit than the younger, faster man. The young man asked the older one how he got so much done when he was taking so many breaks and was obviously slower than he was. The wise old man smiled and said, “While I was resting, I sharpened my axe.”
One of the lessons we busy people need to learn, over and over again, is we have to stop, rest and sharpen our axe. We get to thinking that if we just push ourselves harder and keep going, we can get more done. Never really seems to work that way does it?
Do you take time to exercise? Do you take time daily to read scripture, say a prayer, and just listen for the voice of the Lord? (It is very quiet and easily missed if we are not open to hearing Him.) You go on and work hard and fast and press on. Go ahead and build your house, pursue your career track, get that project done. I have known countless people who thought they needed to use those two hours on Sunday morning for this or that, rather than be in God’s house. I have also seen people forego a decent breakfast, drop their exercise discipline, and sacrifice hours with loved ones for things that will just not matter when their earthly lives are done.
The psalmist speaks well to all of us who find ourselves living this way.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Psalm 127:1
Is God the Lord of all that is currently consuming your life? Even if He is, take these words to heart:
“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows (worry); for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2
Sometimes we get all wrapped up in things that have no eternal or spiritual value; we are spent on things that offer little or no real return. Yet, even if we are pursuing the work of the Lord, sometimes we do so in an earthly manner. We put God’s name over it, and then strive to do it with our own power under it. We worry and labor in vain, and work hard... We would be wiser to work smart.
Take time to stop, to refocus, to be sure that the Lord is at the center of what you are doing - and (most importantly) who you are becoming.
Stop, rest, and sharpen your axe. Jesus says it best:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lovely in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30
Jesus literally had all the world’s problems on His shoulders. Yet He never worried, always prayed, and finished His work on time and perfectly in line with God’s will. Stop and ponder that for awhile.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.