The Sharpest Tool in the Shed

I sell tools.  That’s it.


The children who scramble through my doors on any given day will argue with that description.  Their eyes light up like diamonds as they look around and see the treasures which hang on the walls and stand waiting on the floor.


They see toys.  Strings to run fingers over.  Drums to beat on.  Mouthpieces in which to blow.  The cacophony in the toy store is astounding when the children are here.  They don’t care in the slightest about the intended purpose for any of the joyous delights they’ve discovered.

The kids present a dilemma for me.  I love to see them pushing my door open.  I love the look on their expectant faces.  I love the thrill of discovery that springs up new in almost every one of them.

My problem is that I also love to see them pulling the door open to go out.  I love the sigh of relief that I breathe as quiet and calm reign once again.

You see, I don’t sell toys.

I sell tools.

Tools have purposes and correct ways of being wielded.  When the children are here, those purposes and techniques are nowhere to be found.  The noise and banging and blowing, unless harnessed and guided and controlled, tend to overwhelm me.  I am happy to wave a weary goodbye to the young tykes.

Funny thing.  I don’t run a hardware store.  I have a music store.  My walls and shelves (and floor) are covered with musical instruments.

Musical instruments.  Which are tools, not toys.

One hot summer night many years ago, I watched the cabinet maker at work in his shop.  The rough slabs of cherry wood had, one by one, been cut and routed and sanded.  Glued and fitted together, the individual pieces of wood had become beautiful paneled doors, ready to mount to the framework he had also laboriously cut and assembled.

The doors were perfect.  Perfect.  The stain he had sprayed on them a day or two before had only brought out the amazing grain in the wood, the reddish tint accenting the natural beauty that had always been there.  There was a slight gloss which the lacquer finish added; the lights overhead simply drawing attention to the exquisite design, both of the artisan and the Creator.

I said that they were perfect.  They were nearly perfect.  In order for the doors to serve their intended purpose, one thing remained.  They needed hinges to be mounted.  Not just any hinges would do.  They couldn’t just be slapped on, mounted to the surface, detracting from the perfection.  No.  They had to enhance it.  The hinges had to be recessed, becoming one with the doors.

Out came the wood chisel.  I cringed.

The craftsman glanced up at me and smiled.  He may have been remembering the same thing I was;  I don’t know.  I just had an image in my mind from a few days before, when the same man had been helping me with a mechanical repair on my old Chevy automobile.

I had needed to remove a part from under the hood.  It was mounted to the firewall with two screws.  I didn’t have a flat screwdriver handy, but I did have the solution.  I reached into my toolbox and grabbed–the wood chisel.  It was flat on the end.  It fit into the screw’s slot and I twisted.  Eventually, the screw turned and was removed, but not before the blade slipped out of the slot a time or two.

My craftsman friend was astounded.  Not in a good way.

“You just ruined that chisel,”  was all he said.  It was almost as if I had injured him.

I just grunted and stubbornly started on the other screw.  The repair was completed and the car functioned again, but the chisel was indeed, ruined.

That memory was going through my head as I watched the cabinet maker take his razor sharp chisel and cut a perfect mortise for the brass hinge.  Then he cut another and another.  Like the rest of the door, each one was perfect, the hinge butting up against the raised edge of the wood with precision.  A thing of beauty.

The master craftsman wielded the tool with purpose and understanding.

The result was perfection.

Back in my store, the tools hang on the walls and stand on the floor, waiting for master craftsmen or women.

I have heard the result when they are wielded with purpose and understanding.

The music is astounding.

I don’t exaggerate when I tell you there are times I stand and weep at the beauty of the product of such perfectly wielded tools.  I’m not sure the music in heaven will be much sweeter.

You’ve heard it too, haven’t you?

I can’t help but wonder what the result would be if we would ever understand our own place in this world, in creation.  We could be tools in the hands of the Master Craftsman.

Imagine the beauty!  Hear the sweet music!

I look at the reality of the world around me and realize the kids are playing with toys instead.  The chaos and the cacophony of noise as the instruments are wielded by immature and ignorant hands is confusing and deafening.

Surely, we were designed for better things.

Perhaps, I’ve said more than I should.  I think it’s time for rest.

And quiet.

I have more tools to sell tomorrow.



Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord,
but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
(from Gotta Serve Somebody ~ Bob Dylan ~ American singer)


Stop offering the parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.  Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have been brought from death to life, and the parts of your body as instruments of righteousness to God.
(Romans 6:13 ~ ISV)


© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.


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