One man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a restful lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did.” “But you didn’t notice,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest.” (Source unknown)
If you’re like me, sometimes it seems that dealing with the world is like chopping wood. It’s hard work, it takes time and concentration, and in the end you never get as far as you thought you would. Then on top of that, there never seems to be time to rest. Our to-do-list, deadlines, relationships, and multiple activities keep us on a mad dash that would make a rabbit tired. We rush out of bed and play slave to the schedule until we drop back into a restless slumber.
In other words, our axes are getting dull. Without any time for sharpening, we accomplish less and less with the same effort, until soon we just get used to the idea that we can’t cut it like we used to.
But then there are other believers who seem to have found some kind of ‘secret’. They seem content with their lives, they handle things well, and they rarely seemed stressed out.
Guess what? I’ll let you in on their secret. Ready?
The secret is that there is no secret. In fact it’s spelled out in God’s word. For example:
- Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. (Psalm 37:7)
- Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.(Psalm 46:10)
- As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer. (Luke 5:16)
These folks have simply decided to obey God, and not miss the forest for the trees…so to speak. They take time out to sharpen the axe, which is why they are skilled at chopping through life the way God intended.
Perhaps you have been swinging your axe a little too long, and you need a rest. Not just any rest, but one with a purpose. In order to accomplish this, you will need to do five things:
- Get alone. I mean really alone. No cell phone, no distractions… as remote as possible.
- Bring a Bible. Focus on a few select passages of Scripture like the Psalms or the Gospels. If your phone is your only Bible, put it on Airplane mode to avoid interrumptions.
- Pray. Not the standard ‘bless this food/help me I’ve got a test’ type prayer, but the ‘pouring out your heart before God’ type. Act like you’re talking to your best friend in the whole world, because you are.
- Listen. When was the last time you just sat in silence and listened for God? My thought is, if Jesus needed to do it- you think we might need it too?
- Worship. Praising God is a sure-fire way to get the blade razor-sharp, because it brings us to the place where we remember that God is God and we are not.
Of course, this is just my suggestion. The main point here is to take a time out, because if you don’t, you could soon be chopping up the wrong tree…or something like that.
When was the last time you really got alone with God?
Why do you think Jesus needed to ‘sharpen the axe’?
How would your life change if you regularly applied the 5 suggestions listed above?