Every morning, just before I walk out the door to begin my day, I grab my stuff off the top of my dresser. And every evening, as part of my close-down-the-day ritual, I empty my pockets and place my ‘stuff’ onto the top of that dresser. My wallet, my two sets of keys — one set for the truck I drive every day, the other set for my office — any spare change that I have … the total contents of all my pockets is emptied onto my dresser.
And one of the things I always carefully set there is my pocketknife.
I started carrying a pocketknife when I was just a little boy. In fact, the first pocketknife I ever carried was plastic, and not a real pocketknife. My momma thought a real knife would be too dangerous or tempting for me to use, so I got to carry a plastic pocketknife. But in my late adolescence or early teen years, I bought myself a real, honest-to-goodness pocketknife that I could whittle with, or pick splinters out of my hand with, or open some cardboard box with. I’ve carried a pocketknife nearly all my life.
I learned that a pocketknife was an indispensable tool from my dad, I think. He always had a pocketknife. And when I got a splinter in my hand, he’d say, “Come over here, and I’ll get that splinter out for you.” With a certain child-like obedience, I’d hold my palm up to him, as he’d reach into his pocket for his knife and perform surgery, you might say. With surgeon-like precision, he’d take the point of that pocketknife, and carefully pick that sliver out of my hand. Sometimes, it would pain me, depending on how deep the splinter was buried into my flesh. But usually, it wasn’t too painful, and I knew that leaving a splinter in my flesh would produce a festering sore. And my dad was determined to leave no splinter in my hide. The tool he used was his pocketknife.
My wife asked me to open a cardboard box for her the other day, and my knife would hardly cut the tape. Might as well have been a plastic toy. I thought to myself, “I’ve got to sharpen my knife.” I saw my dad sharpen his pocketknife many times. He had a whet stone that he’d moisten with some honing oil, and then begin. Methodically, almost rhythmically, he would carefully and at just the right angle push and pull the blade of his pocketknife across the stone. Back and forth, back and forth. After a few moments — and I’ve seen him do it dozens of times — he’d carefully run his sharpened blade over some the hairs on his arm, just to see if it was razor sharp yet. If that blade shaved the hairs off his arm, he’d stop sharpening. But if it wasn’t quite there yet, he’d continue until it was really sharp.
The writer of Hebrews, in chapter four had some rather profound things to say about sharp blades, and what they’ll cut.”For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
And the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians chapter 6 that the blade we need to remember to take with us every day isn’t a simple pocketknife, but rather the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. That blade will do a lot more than shave the hair off my arm.
Nothing can expose the stuff I’ve been carrying around in the pockets of my life like God’s word.
Nothing reveals those slivers of self, and ego and doubt that will fester over time if they’re not dealt with.
The attitudes that need to be excised;
The extraneous stuff in my life that needs to be whittled away;
Yes, even the boxes that remain unopened that need that precision surgical instrument of God’s Word to reveal the true content of my inner man.
I’ve been carrying a pocketknife ever since I was a little boy. But when I pick up my pocketknife off my dresser every morning, preparing to walk out the door, I would do well to remember to take that sharp, two-edged sword with me, as well. The Word of God: quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. When I can have that kind of tool available to me every day, why on earth would I ever want to settle for some plastic, pretend imitation?