April 27, 2009

Get A Grip!
By Pastor George Van Alstine

This guy at the swap meet has a special deal on used tires, and he’s got four just the right size for your car.

“Look, aren’t they beautiful? You’d better grab them before someone else does.”

“But they don’t have any tread left. They’re worn almost completely smooth.”

“I know. That’s what makes them such a bargain. Tires as smooth as these are hard to find.”

“How in the world can tires grip the road with no tread? What good are they?”

“They’re just what you need. You keep your car clean and polished. You can’t have ugly tires on it. These smooth ones will make your car the envy of the neighborhood.”

“No thanks. I think I’ll drift on over there, where the lady is selling tamales a la mode.”

You can’t get a grip on the road with a smooth tire.

I remember a man no one wanted to shake hands with. He worked hard in a lumber yard, loading and unloading trucks, moving heavy timbers from one place to another. As a result, his hands were strong, rough, and sometimes dirty. When he shook your hand, you knew you’d had a handshake. You could feel your bones grind together, and his skin rubbed on yours like sandpaper.

But the grip of this man’s hands, which might not be fun in a handshake, was just what you wanted if you faced a hard job that involved heavy lifting. His grip might be too much for your hand, but it would be perfect for lifting a 100-pound bag of concrete or carrying a square of shingles up to the roof. The roughness and toughness of his skin were necessary for jobs like these.

“Get a grip!” People might say this when you’re slipping and sliding in a difficult time in your life. But if your “hands” are not used to hard work, they’re likely to be smooth and delicate. It’s difficult to get a grip with such dainty hands.

Spiritual disciplines, such as self-denial, postponing gratification, and daily personal devotions, help develop spiritual “hands” that are strong enough to hang on in any situation. Negative experiences, troubles and trials, setbacks and failures, may scar our “hands” and build up callouses. This may not be pretty, but the roughness of your “hands” may be exactly what you need to keep hanging on in times of chaos and confusion.

You can’t get a grip until you have a grip, and that can best be developed over years of hard work and hard times.