April 13, 1999
In some parts of the world, where roads were made of stone and before the days of gravel crushers, women were placed before a large rock and given a small mallet. They tapped the rock, their blows feeble yet relentless. Eventually the rocks disintegrated into smaller pieces suitable for making a new road.
Once I was like a large and stubborn rock, unyielding and determined to be what I was, do my own thing. But God has a mallet. I was not aware of the tapping or if I was, I dismissed it as mere noise or nuisance. However, those light blows to my self-determination came relentlessly, determined. He knew what He needed to do to me to make a new life. Eventually, my hard exterior crumbled into millions of pieces.
Critics say God’s mallet is useless, old fashioned and irrelevant to all but fanatics or weaklings who need a crutch. The critics are wrong. This mallet can be turned upside down and leaned on by the weak but it is also a relentless tool that God uses to break hard hearts, like mine.
Over twenty-five years ago, I strongly believed I could run my own life and handle whatever challenges came my way. And they came, tap, tap. I firmed my chin and lifted it higher. My way to overcome doubt was with assertive, self-confidence. I bluffed away my insecurities. I held my ground. I refused to be wrong, ever.
As the challenges grew, the tapping continued, relentless, firm, not annoying, more like a call, an invitation. I hardened myself. The mallet never skipped a beat. Deep inside, I was crumbling, but shook it away, dared not examine it.
More tapping. Layered in a crust, the strong will inside grew less sure, but still contained by weakening resolve. Then one day, one small tapping day, the crushed inner core found a crack and begin oozing out. The shell yielded. Everything hard turned to mush.
Despite appearances, this was no disaster. God was lovingly in control. What He was doing was for my good. Although it was painful for a short while, had I known what God was going to make of the pieces of my life, I’d given in to His mallet much sooner.
The mallet? The Word of God, but not the Bible by itself. I’d read it daily for sixteen years without consciously understanding what it said. Everyone can read the Bible. Not everyone feels the mallet. Besides Scripture, God combines it with life and reads both into our hearts.
However, Scripture is the main part of His life changing tool. No matter why anyone would read it, the possibility is strong for it to do its tapping. God says His Word “will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Even used as a literature textbook, in God’s hands, it can do its work.
And that work? First to reveal Himself so we can be changed by what we see. He says that those who see God are slain, slain to their old, stubborn and self-focused way of life, dead to it and ready for new life. But how can a hard, self-determined person see God? My stubborn independence kept getting in the way. God began using His Word as a mallet, tapping, tapping.
Second, the mallet is not merely for crumbling rock but to make it into something new and useful. He says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Under the tapping, my stubbornness crumbled but I also became “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” which He prepared in advance for me. My life is different, better, richer, filled with peace and joy and with much to do for God.
But first He needed to crack me open. For that, He used a small mallet.