I like cheddar cheese. Actually, I lied, I love cheddar cheese. But, it can’t be plain cheddar cheese and it can’t just be sharp cheddar cheese, it has to be extra sharp. You can tell how good the extra sharp cheddar cheese will be when you cut into the block. If it cuts through and it seems fairly smooth then it probably isn’t going to be really good. But, if when you cut into it and it flakes and starts to fall apart, well, then you know you are on to something.
Our childhoods served as a smorgasbord of emotions, feelings, memories, and tastes. Somewhere along the line I acquired the taste for the sharpness of cheddar cheese. I can’t recall the time or the moment when I enjoyed my first bite but I’m pretty sure that my mom had something to do with it. She liked cheese, too. But, not just any brand. Her brand of choice was, Cracker Barrel, particularly the sharp white “Vermont” style. I can remember the fridge being stocked full of a few bars, which, of course, did not last long.Since the days of my childhood, mostly because I was on my own and could not afford Cracker Barrel, I had to try different brands of extra sharp cheddar cheese, none of which could compare to the original. I missed the sharpness of that cheese.
There is a story in the Bible that speaks to what happens when we lose our sharpness. It’s located in 2 Kings 6:1-7 and it goes like this:
1 The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live.”
And he said, “Go.”
3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”
“I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them.
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axehead fell into the water. “Oh, my lord,” he cried out, “it was borrowed!”
6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.
There are two things I want to point out in this passage:
1. You will become dull. Hopefully, your husband or your wife, or even your kids, won’t look at you and say this but the truth of the matter is that at some point we will become dull. It’s human nature to try to do things in our own power and to continue “working” for the Lord without taking care of yourself. It’s also just normal wear and tear. This is the reason that many pastors, including myself, have either ceased to be effective at some point in their careers, or will. Caring for an axehead is hard work. In order to keep the axehead sharp you have to acquire some steel wool to remove the rust, some sandpaper to sand away any scratches, then you have to place it in a vice grip while you grind away with a mill file, and then finally you have to sharpen the blade with a filing stone. All of those steps are abrasive, but necessary.
God has to do the same with us. He has to remove rust, heal wounds, tighten the grip, and rub us the wrong way.
2. “It was borrowed.” You and I cannot be someone else. We can’t borrow the sharpness of another person. It just doesn’t work. David could not wear the armor of King Saul no more than you and I can wear the armor of someone else. What worked for King Saul would not work for David, and vice versa. We work so hard trying to be someone else that we fail to allow God to use us for who we are.
I am personally in the midst of a very abrasive season, but I know it has a purpose to it. It hurts. But, God is working in my life and in my family to make us the “sharpest tool in the shed.” Why? Because He has much for us to do. I could just dismiss all of this and pretend that I’m not dull or pretend to be someone else but it’s never worked for me before.
I don’t want to sound too cheesy, but I don’t want to be sharp, I want to be extra sharp!!
Jamie Zirkle currently resides with his wife and son in his hometown of Winchester, VA. He is licensed with the Assemblies of God. Jamie continues to serve as a lay leader in Victory Church while he waits on God to open the next ministry opportunity for him. You can read more articles from Jamie at his blog (http://jamiezirkle.wordpress.com/) and connect with him on LinkedIn