We have animals, cows and horses, which means you have fences and gates. Boundaries are good for everyone and we all need them in some fashion or another. The hinges are usually put on with lag bolts or screws or nails - dependent on what is on hand or will best work. You can hammer nails straight again, or close but screws you cannot. That means when they are bent that's the end of their useful lives - unless of course you are Earl! So this gate, which regularily gets beat up by animals,weather and errant stock trailers, fell off the post after said stock trailer snagged it.
After getting it unsnagged I was faced with the task of removing some screws, putting on a piece of 2x4 and putting it back up until we could build a new gate. NO PROBLEM! Grab the wood, the drill a hammer and some nails and screws - and Mama is in business. Except for one thing - the last screw (not much of a story if it was the first one I know) is not coming out. It isn't turning at all.
Drill check - going in the proper direction, correct bit head and size and the batteries are good. Yep all checks out...so I start looking at the screw - it is different from all the others and it is the only one that is still holding strongly. Why is that? Grab the screw driver and start turning and my hand starts going in a large circle because the screw is crooked, and has to be removed by unscrewing it crookedly. Not bright and shiny, not straight and true but strong, old and bent and twisted.
I finally get it out and I'm laughing so hard there are tears in my eyes, the two fellas with the trailer are looking at me like I've let my good sense run off. They were cross that the screw was used when it was obviously not new, straight or 'good enough'...but then I showed them two important things: it was an older style that held strongly, and it was the one that didn't pull out of the wood when the trailer snagged the gate. It wasn't perfect in appearance but perfect in how it did the job it was put in place to do.
This, is I think, a modern parable for us. God has tasks for us to do, and when we are doing them we are the tool He has chosen. We may be bent nails hammered straight, we may be crooked screws holding things together because we could not be straightened for another task. When I look down at the scars on my body from the living of my life I realize that I am more a bent nail used many times for the tasks given me than a new, shiny one that is untried and unknown. God has straightened me out many times, and I'm still a little bent, a little crooked in places but for the tasks He chooses me for I am as true, strong and reliable as I can be.
The experiences of our lives give us not only character and strength, they can give us resilience, drive, passion and understanding. When the things that shape us leave their mark, it is more than as scar or a bump - it is a reminder of the things that make life worth living...and the things that have made us into the people we are today. And who are are today is who God needs us to be today...