“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Discarded instruments, by Randall D. Kittle

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As I was praying, the Lord showed me a vision that began with three believers talking to one another. I noticed they were each wearing necklaces that began to illuminate brightly. Around their necks one of them wore a cross, another a large, coarse nail, and the last necklace was the shape of a crown of thorns. With a blinding flash of light, these three believers were suddenly standing in the midst of a group of people who looked to be from New Testament times. I instantly knew that they were in the midst of some of Christ’s disciples the day after the crucifixion. One, who appeared to be Peter, looked at them and then with an enraged face yelled, “I can’t believe you would wear such symbols as jewelry around your neck. I demand you remove and discard those ‘instruments of death.’ I never want to see those items again in my entire life, for they have caused too much pain — pain from which we will never recover.”

With that, some of the others pulled the necklaces off their necks and threw them into a nearby basket that contained some rubbish. Looking into the basket, I noticed it was filled with various items including: surgical instruments, pruning shears, and sculpting tools.

As the vision faded, I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Tell My beloved, they must not discard the instruments I use to transform them into the men and women of God I so long for them to be. They must look beyond the hurt and wounding, and see the transformation I am laboring to produce in their lives.”

Instruments Of Death
If we could go back to that sad Sabbath between the crucifixion and the resurrection, we would feel the strong sense of the death, disillusionment, and defeat the followers of Christ felt. All their hopes seemed dashed … all their dreams destroyed. There was some talk of a miraculous comeback, but for most, this seemed just a vain hope. The Cross had seemingly put to death not only Jesus, but all their plans … all the advancement they had labored for years to achieve. In the painful light of their loss, the crown of thorns, nails, and the cross had become cruel reminders that everything they had hoped for had been vanquished and would soon vanish.

Like the disciple in the vision, do we, too, want to discard the instruments the Lord has used to crucify our flesh? When ministers, friends, or family have brought wounding that cuts deep into our lives, are we enraged at the very thought of them — wanting nothing more to do with them ever again?

If so, perhaps it is because we are still focusing on the crucifixion side of the cross as it applies to our lives, and have not seen how God has used it to bring new life. God does not want you to have great marble monuments glorifying the death of your old flesh. Even if the process of crucifying your old nature has been difficult or painful, you should not mourn it as if it was some monumental loss. As hard as it might be to hear, it is God’s plan to “circumcise” your life; removing the old life so His new life can grow and expand. “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:5-7).

Instruments For Perfection
How does the Lord unite us together in the likeness of His death? How does God crucify our flesh? Like the first crucifixion, He uses “instruments of death,” which, if we will choose to embrace them, can become “instruments for perfection” in our lives.

These instruments were symbolized in the vision by the scalpel, pruning shears, and sculpting tools. What do these have in common? In the hands of ones who are skilled to use them, they make things more healthy, more fruitful, and more conformed into the image of the model. Father God wants our lives to be whole, healthy, productive, and conformed into the image of His Son — Jesus Christ. He is the Great Physician who wields the spiritual scalpel and brings faithful wounds that help us attain health and wholeness. God is the Master Gardener who will prune off our dead wood and prune back our fruitful branches so we can maintain and increase in fruitfulness. He is the Master Artist who takes the sculpting tools and forcefully, even violently, cuts, gouges, scratches, scores, and chips away the raw material of our lives until we become a beautiful work of art by coming into the likeness of our model — Jesus Christ.

How many of us enjoy the process of the sculpting utensils in the hand of the Master Artist as they transform the rough clay of our lives into the likeness of Christ? Not many. While we may know that the pruning process is necessary for an orchard, it is a little less exciting when we are the ones being pruned. Even when we manage to embrace the pruning as from the Lord, we often despise the “pruning shears” the Lord has employed in the process. It is often difficult for us to forgive the ones through which the Lord has brought the wounding. We easily discard them from our lives, making the territory of our hearts “off limits” to them.

A Difficult Embrace
However, the Lord would have us be like the patriarch Joseph who understood that even though his brothers’ intent toward him was not good, God used it for good in his life. “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result …” (Genesis 50:20). To understand the depth of this statement, we must realize that Joseph’s brothers were not just older brothers who picked on their little brother. They had mocked him, tossed him in a pit to die, and sold him into slavery in a foreign land. To do this to an enemy would be harsh and heartless, but to do this to your own brother was loathsome and despicable. Yet, Joseph was not only able to forgive his brothers, he embraced them and blessed them with help, safety, and provision. What a great foreshadowing of the love of Christ!

In this area of forgiveness, Jesus is our ultimate example. While Jesus hung dying on the Cross, He did not excuse those crucifying Him … He forgave them! “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34). He could do this because He knew that all things were ultimately in His Father’s hands. Jesus understood that He had come to earth to face the crucifixion in order to gain the resurrection and accomplish this very task for Father God. The Lord looked at the bigger picture, and in light of that He refused to hold even the most despicable act in history against those who performed it. This was not primarily because He is so gracious and magnanimous (which He is). It was because Jesus, as a man, truly lived a surrendered life — a life that believed and practiced “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

God’s desire for each of us is to be conformed to Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” We will never really become Galatians 2:20 believers until we have fully surrendered ourselves to the truth of Luke 22:42; surrendering our right to ourselves and embracing God’s will even when it is painful and brings to death areas in which we are very much alive. We must desire the Lord’s will above all else — above our convenience, above our comfort, and even above the pain that choosing it will cause in our lives. The Lord died so we could be conformed into His image and possess true Christ-likeness.

God is also calling us not to hold unforgiveness or offense toward those He has used as “instruments for our perfection.” They are not to be cast off and discarded, but regarded as instruments that have been used by the hand of God. While their intentions toward us may not have been good, like Joseph, we must learn to rejoice in the good that God has brought from them in conforming us into the image of Christ, and once again be willing to embrace our brothers and sisters in the Lord.


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