The Story of a Nail
I listened to a most intriguing song recently. The premise sounds silly, really silly, but the song was absolutely unforgettable. It was written from the perspective of this lump of metal that’s being forged into a huge nail. The nail talks about how much he wants “his life” to mean something and do something great. The chorus goes something like, “dream a little dream for me, my future is unclear….” And so goes this song, a nail all self-absorbed and hoping to do something colossal and memorable with his life—hang an art piece in place or something.
You can totally identify with this storyteller, and then comes the final verse. With a small voice the nail describes himself being driven through the hand of Jesus and holding Him up on the cross. It’s powerful in a multi-dimensional way. First of all because he did end up doing something great, though without knowing it. Second because he had no part in orchestrating his place in history. And third because his deep sense of self-centered interest suddenly seems to irrelevant in the grander scheme of things.
Suddenly you’re listening to the song and completely taken in by the story that this nail is a very small, though significant part of something bigger. And immediately you’re thinking about how you view your own journey and how much energy you’ve put into longing to do something significant, or worried that what you do hasn’t mattered. All the silliness of self-doubt comes crashing down loudly.
A Wise Proverb
The nail song reminds me of a story and a wise proverb. The story was told to me while in seminary about a man who had held these tent revival meetings and how only two people attended. He had preached his heart out. They had both given their lives to Jesus—mother and son—and that was that. Small chance that preacher ever thought much of those three or so weeks after the tent had been taken down. But today, that boy is now ranked up at the top of chaplains who serve in the US Armed forces. He is a leader with incredible rank.
According to the proverb: A man lays his plans, but the Lord directs his steps.
Where do we get the idea that we are randomly placed and conceived, and that for our lives to really count we need to be guided by ourselves—strapped down to our own grand plan that we follow to a place of meaning and glory? Because we were created means we are already full of God’s glory and honor, and actually formed for something that was written on our very beings. Thus all we need to do is uncover, discover and work in harmony with who we find under all our clothes, performances, needs and fears.
We who chose to believe in God no longer have an impetus to strive and grind away at life—as if it could make us into something special. God made us into something already, and we can work backwards from there. Even if we do not know or recognize the greatness of our lives and their place in history (I’m just a nail, after all!) we can still rejoice in being part of something universal and significant. We play a role that is too small to place in the proper context and view from eternity—this side of Heaven.
What a grand reality it is to know we matter already. Every minute is sacred and every act influential—not to mention the consequences are unfathomable. It’s like the guy who dreamed of being in heaven and was shocked to find a celebration going on for his having fixed all those old cars in his shop in south Chicago all those years. Could it be? Is this really how things work in the Universe of God?
Clarissa Worley Sproul writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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