Do you have a favorite tool? Is it an outdoor or indoor tool? Manual, automatic, or digital—didn’t think of that, did ya? Although I consider myself a bona fide city-boy, I love nature and I like getting out in it. My favorite tool is a cutter mattock—doesn’t that sound like it might be your uncle in the country? “You know, Uncle Cutter said the wind took down Cousin Mable’s ole spook elm the other ni-igh-t.”
A cutter mattock is the combination of an axe and an adze blade.
I like the cutter mattock (there are other types) because it’s a simple tool that is very useful outdoors. I’ve used it and a bow rake alone to transform a property of dense brush into bare ground. It will unearth the toughest root balls and fell small trees. I’ve even lopped off the heads of a few snakes with it.
Mattocks of the Heart
The cutter mattock is a lot like another tool I prefer: study. The spiritual discipline of study has probably been the driving force in my spiritual life. Study is the practice of researching the scriptures to gain a fuller knowledge about God and his will. I was always interested in the Bible as a boy, and I started “meeting the text” daily at 12 years-old. I would study for hours and with resources strewn everywhere.
Study is like the cutter mattock because it acts much the same way. Let me explain.
- First, they’re both manual. If we’re seeking to be like Christ, we must put time in to study the Word. It is the primary way we are transformed into the image of Christ. It’s not automatic and won’t happen overnight, so we shouldn’t expect visions that endow instant spiritual maturity. Instead, growth is achieved by lingering in the Word (John 15:4-7), which is God’s mind to us. Truly, the more you “work it” the more it works for you and in you.
- Next, they both dig. The nature of studying Scripture is itself an act of mining to the heart of what God has spoken in history to know how we are to apply it in our lives today. Further, those who consistently study the Bible usually convey the feeling that more than them reading the Word, it seems to read them. Indeed, it is living and burrows through layers of soul, exposing truest feelings and motivations, keeping one’s heart honest before God.
- Lastly, they both cut. This isn’t always easy but it’s necessary. The Word excises roots of overgrowth and sin. Even more, it reverses the sin process by empowering us to alter our patterns. Jesus prays to the Father, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Although the cutting process can be painful, we should embrace it. As I like to say, God is not hurting us; he’s blessing us—and we’ll marvel at our own development.