Monday, November 9, 2015

THIS ISN'T NECESSARY


Tinkering.

Sometimes I think that's all I try to do with my life…

Fix things.

And sometimes I think that this is all that happens when I tinker…

Nothing.

The definition of the word "tinker" is this: to busy oneself with a thing without useful results.

(The origin of the word comes from "tinker" = "a mender of kettles, pots, pans, etc."  The word originated in the mid-13th century as a surname.  Some connect the word with the sound made by light hammering on metal.  The verb meaning,"to keep busy in a useless way," is first found in the 1650's.) 


It seems to me that there's just something about human nature that is driven to tinker.  

It's like we feel a compulsion to contribute our *two cents* to conversations and to *offer advice* (meddle??) in relationships.  To *tweak* (manipulate??) situations.  Not to mention how much time we spend changing our wardrobes, changing our looks, changing our homes, changing our diets, changing our exercise routine…

Seems like we're always seeking to alter and modify – to revise, rework, and remodel.

Why do we do this?

I think it's because we're endlessly trying to make life feel right, and comfortable, and easy.

But, by its very definition, tinkering is futile and pointless work.

For, more often than not, our efforts are fruitless, accomplishing nothing of any significance or lasting impact.

And when I think about fruitless labor, I always think about Sarah Winchester.


Years ago, my sons and I took a most interesting tour at a place called The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.

Here's the backstory:

The house was built by Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Winchester, of the family that manufactured the Winchester repeating rifle.  Life was good for a while, but then disaster struck.  In 1866, her infant daughter, Annie, died, followed 15 years later by the death of her husband.  Mrs. Winchester fell into a deep depression from which she never fully recovered.  Legend has it that she ultimately sought help from a spiritualist.

According to some sources, the spiritualist explained that she was being haunted by the spirits of people killed by Winchester rifles.  Supposedly the spirits caused the tragic deaths of her daughter and husband, and she could be their next victim.

Mrs. Winchester was told to move west, and in an effort to appease the spirits, she was exhorted to build a grand house for them.  As long as construction on the house never ceased, Mrs. Winchester’s life would not be in danger, and perhaps she would even ensure herself eternal life.

Over the next 38 years, 24 hours a day, construction never stopped.   At the time of her death in 1922, the unfinished farmhouse she bought in 1884 had spread over six acres.  The sprawling mansion contained 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 stairways, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, two basements – with many false doors, confusing passageways, up-and-down staircases, secret rooms, peepholes, and dead-ends.

After all that, Sarah Winchester still died.

The house is fascinating, the story is heartbreaking.


Fruitless labor.

Yes, I've been known to "work" at that, too.

And sometimes, my tinkering just makes things worse.

Ever done that?

Tried to make things better, and everything just blows up in your face?

Now hear me on this, I am not talking about the real work of reconciliation or forgiveness.

This is necessary work, and God commands us to do it.

But, He does not ask us to do HIS work.

That's what I'm talking about – inserting ourselves into situations where God is in control.  (Which, truth be told, is EVERY situation!)

And sometimes, when God is at work, He asks us to wait.

This is when I'm most tempted to insert my proverbial nose into the process.

When things are not proceeding according to my plans and my timetable.  

When life feels wrong and uncomfortable and difficult.

When I think that God could use a little help.

HA!


My grandmother once told me a story about planting some seeds.  

And when they didn't sprout in a *timely fashion*, she dug one up.  Seeing that the seed had changed, she replanted it.  Well, I bet you can guess what happened.

That is the only seed that didn't grow.

Good lesson, huh?!


So what does God want to say to me, to us, about all of this?

These words:

"This isn't necessary."

Our pastor tells the story of a man burdened under a load of heavy sticks. Hunched over, he slowly trudges his way down the road toward home.  Then a truck comes by, with a very friendly driver, and offers him a ride.

He accepts.

But, once in the bed of the truck, the man declines to sit, and continues to be bent over by the weight of his heavy burden, which he refuses to lay down.

Don't we all do this sometimes?

Having accepted the Lord as our Savior, we then revert to behavior that impedes Him from saving us.

We tinker and toil, endlessly trying to *fix* things.

Without useful results, and sometimes making things worse in the process.

And if we're not actively tinkering, we're most likely worrying in fretful fits of futile figuring, trying to work things out.


God speaks…

Gently, insistently, and occasionally a bit forcefully – (I sometimes don't listen well, do you?!)…

"This isn't necessary."

We are not meant to carry life.

We are meant to carry our cares to The Life.

When I looked up the definition of "tinker," it included this sentence in the definition – "Stop tinkering with that clock and take it to the repair shop."

It occurs to me that I should be taking everything to The Watchmaker.

The only One who knows how to repair broken relationships, to mend broken hearts, to restore broken spirits, to fix a broken world.


Might I just paraphrase one of my favorite verses in the Bible?

One that I believe, but have so much trouble following?

"Do not be anxious or worried about anything, and stop trying to fix things. Instead, in everything – and I mean everything! – every circumstance, every situation, every relationship, every financial matter, every illness or health challenge, every decision – by praise and appeal and thanksgiving (don't forget to be thankful!) – continue to make your specific requests known to God.  And then, lay down those burdens, get out of the way, and LET HIM WORK!" (paraphrase of Philippians 4:6)


I don't know about you, but I'm sitting down and unloading those heavy sticks!

I'm tired of carrying burdens that aren't meant to be carried alone.

I'm tired of worrying about situations and circumstances that are firmly in God's control.

I'm tired of shouldering responsibility in a futile effort to fix everything and make everything *work*.

I'm tired of tinkering.

And I'm sure God is tired of my interference!!


May God complete His work – in me, in my life, and in the lives of the ones I love.

May my fruitless labor be transformed into the fruit of the Spirit.


And may I learn to trust Him ever more…





Laying down my tools
and ceasing
from my labors,
I place everything
into the capable hands
of
The Carpenter,
who bids me to come
and rest. 



"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'" 
(Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)

"God has told his people, 'Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.'" (Isaiah 28:12, NLT)

"'For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.'" (Jeremiah 31:25, ESV)

"He gives strength to the weary, and to him who has no might He increases power.  Even youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, but those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not grow tired." (Isaiah 40:29-31, AMP)

"For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel has said this, 'In returning [to Me] and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confident trust is your strength.'" (Isaiah 30:15, AMP)

"'So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'" (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

"The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom…Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will." (Isaiah 50:4, NLT)

"A man's mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them." (Proverbs 16:9, AMP)

"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." 
(Psalm 37:5, ESV)

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (Proverbs 16:3, NIV)

"Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth…" (Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP)

"…[Cast] all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]." (1 Peter 5:7, AMP)

"Cast your burden on the Lord [release it] and He will sustain and uphold you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail)." 
(Psalm 55:22, AMP)

"O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:8, NLT)

"To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.  O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me…Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day." 
(Psalm 25:1-2, 4-5, NASB)

"...your eyes will [constantly] see your Teacher.  Your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left." (Isaiah 30:20-21, AMP)

"Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me…" (Psalms 27:11, ESV)



Are you a tinkering fool?!



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31 comments:

  1. Interesting story about Mrs. Winchester. If only she could have met someone to tell her about grace. As for being a tinkerer: don't have time to do that. :)

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  2. I have seen the Winchester House; such a sad story there indeed. I've been known to do quite a bit of tinkering. I need to paste the Philippians scripture all around the house so I remember it and apply it to a lot of aspects and tinkering in my life :)

    betty

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  3. Hi Sharon! That is so sad! Poor Mrs. Winchester...and what a quack to tell her to go out west and keep building a house. I suppose there are quacks like that in our modern times, but I hope we are all more aware of what is crazy-talk?
    I really enjoyed all your stories here. The man who wouldn't put down his burden really struck home with me. I will often give over a worry to the Lord, only to grab it back later. Kind of the same thing.
    May God keep me from messing around with His perfect plans!
    Ceil

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  4. I enjoy word history - and it always saddens me to see how words devolve and become less honorable - cheap is a word like that. It intrigues me that tinkering once meant actually fixing something and really becomes not effectively fixing something. I'm learning to stop tinkering - to be hands-off. I think once I learned that most true fixing requires 1) waiting while I 2) let God, it clicked - but it's a lifelong lesson on learning to live hands-off. I remember watching the history of the Winchester house - and it saddened me that she lost such faith in God and had so little love to give away that she just built and built and built often to nowhere. Every one of your stories was such a good read - and a good reminder for the beginning of my week - to make sure I don't thoughtlessly start tinkering! Shalom, Sharon!
    Maryleig

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  5. Your title says it all, may we receive this lesson that it really is not necessary to meddle in what God is doing. I enjoyed your many stories-- the folklore, the pastor's lesson, your grandmother's wise advice using seeds, and your scripture paraphrase. Yes to being a tinkering fool; can't help but relate here because personalities like you and me tend to be more detailed noticing progress or lack of it more acutely. We are tinkers or should I say stinkers. I do notice progress with age; how about you???

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  6. No, "helping" God out is not necessary whatsoever, but sometimes it can be so hard to let go and let Him. Honestly, the older I get, Sharon, the more I realize the futility of tinkering. I'm gladly laying my burdens in His lap, trusting He knows what to do with them.
    Blessings!

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  7. Oh gosh that feeling of doing and doing and not seeing results is so discouraging sometimes. But well, God always works in ways we cannot see. We need not give up.

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  8. Yes, I am a tinkering fool!
    As I read this I started to relate it to something I find myself doing quite often...I notice that when I need to do something around the house that I really hate...Like mopping floors, I will often get busy doing something that doesn't need to be done...like rearranging things in order to get the feeling of accomplishment, or change of environment when all I really needed to do is to clean the place! Well, I can see where I tend to do this in my spiritual life as well...when I should get busy doing what God is directing me to do, I get busy with something else instead trying to get that feeling of accomplishment...but that feeling never comes, or at least doesn't stay for long...until I do what God says to do instead.
    Blessings and love to you! ((hugs)) ~Lisa~

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  9. Wow. Just wow. I will have to send you a longer letter to the purpose, but I am reading this and sensing God's confirmation on the theme in the next Fable Springs book. Something I began scribbling notes about during Sunday morning service, and will be exploring with a new small group starting this month on brokenness and how to minister to people in such a place. Pointing them to the "Watchmaker." Just wow.
    Joy,
    Kathy

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  10. I'm often tempted to tinker too. But your'e right--we just need to ACCEPT. Let God fix things; I can just relax in the process and trust. Thanks, Sharon!

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  11. Thanks Sharon ... from another "tinker"bell ... love all your message but the one that struck me most was the "burden" one ... Love the word study, the Word, your words, and especially the Watchmaker! Tick tock! (((hugs))) luv - Peggy

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  12. It's a joy to follow you at #RaRaLinkup today. Good thoughts about tinkering. The story about Mrs. Winchester is fascinating. Thank you for sharing it and your great words!

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  13. What an interesting story about Mrs. WInchester. Sadly she put her trust in a spiritualist. I found your post on tinkering made me smile. My sister went to Ireland a while back and found out our Irish ancestors were Tinkers. They traveled around as gypsies selling their wares...and were called Tinkers. Hmm I guess I come from a long like of those who tinker. Great post, Sharon, as usual.

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  14. What a great post and reminder! We get so good at using the gifts of our physical body and senses that we lose all of our God given senses!

    That story about the man who continued to carry the load after he'd been given a way out from underneath will flat out preach, sister! How often in my own ignorance have I declined God's grace? I'm not looking forward to the answer to that once we get to the other side.

    Love that hammer by the way. Nothing better than a chrome framing hammer. That brings back some memories...

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  15. Brilliant Sharon, knew I needed to come and read your blog tonight, I understand fully why. Yes I am tinkering and trying to fix things and it is futile and pointless.

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  16. Wishing you a beautiful day out there Sharon. Hope it shines for you in every way.

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  17. Just call me tinker-bell! :)

    This is such a good word, Sharon. Thanks :)

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  18. When I lived (briefly) in CA, I visited the Winchester House. I'm not one for tours, but this house was off-limits to meandering guests because you just might not find your way out. It truly was a fascinating house, and yes, the story is sad. Sad that someone would live a life in such turmoil and fear, believing something that if they can just keep one step ahead, they can have life. But, as you said, she died anyway.

    BTW, I love tinkering too. Loved this post!

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  19. Mrs. Winchester's story is heartbreaking but such an accurate picture of what the enemy does when we follow his 'advice.' It's all about fear and wastes time, resources, and ultimately proved completely unfruitful. I'm with you. I try to meddle or speed things up instead of waiting on His timing and process. I'm learning! Thanks for the reminder, Sharon!

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  20. Fabulous or fruitless? Wow. Powerful. I've been to that mansion a few times as it intrigues me... Pointless construction. Tinkering...

    May our lives be fruitful!

    Thank you for joining the DanceWithJesus linkup Sharon. Hugs. Susan

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  21. This is certainly true for me! I just want to tinker around with things and do it all my way, when really what I need to be doing is leaving it in God's hands. Thanks for the reminder that even through what is sometimes a hard wait, we can always trust our Lord!

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  22. I am absolutely a tinkerer and I actually could have written that old song Frank Sinatra made famous...."I Did It My Way". Man, you certainly nailed this one, my intuitive friend. i never knew that story about the Winchester house but now I will always remember it, especially since I have many hunters in my family. Great post...love you :)

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  23. Amen, Sharon! I've heard of the Winchester "mansion" would love to visit someday. It is a sad story, but a good lesson to learn from. I love what your Grandmother told you about the seed! That's a profound lesson on many levels! This post was convicting and good food for thought, as always,my friend. Thank you for sharing what He's teaching you. Blessings!

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  24. I am convicted by how much effort I spend tinkering! God help me.

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  25. Yes, a fixer and tinker I am. Ready or not. If God gives you the words and they are spoken in love, my prayer is that the one receiving will do just that and open their heart to receive and perhaps make changes. Many times we are stubborn and not willing to accept words give by family, friends or even the minister, but we would rather sit with our broken watch and admire its beautiful face and hands. Until Jesus comes, I will probably be a fixed and pray that it will not be useless. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful and interesting story with us here at Tell me a Story.

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  26. What a powerful reminder. I tend to tinker... a lot. Often I look at my days and think - what did I do today to glorify and add to God's kingdom.

    This was wonderful to contemplate today.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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  27. I'm not much of a tinkerer. I've been to the Winchester House. It's quite fascinating, what they show you of it. I always want to jump the ropes and go into the places that aren't for public viewing.

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  28. Wow, what a story! I have never heard of the Winchester House or Sarahs' story, but it sure does sound somewhat familiar as far as the way I feel so driven to continually do this and do that to try to "control" things. Oh, my! The enemy or our souls will run us plumb ragged if we allow him to, and all of our struggling is to no avail. Our God reigns and is in control, and it is always in our best interest to place it all in His capable hands and allow Him to untangle the webs we have so futilely woven. Thank you for this enlightening post. God bless you, my friend!

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  29. You have some really interesting blog posts on here! Glad I found it!
    I'm following you...Check out my blog if you get a chance!
    Welcome to Green Herbz 2014 Potpourri Herbal Spice

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"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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