A Well Worn Edge

A Well Worn Edge

Ecclesiastes 1:24  - “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.”

As a young man I worked in a place that sold, among many other things, quality pocketknives. On one of our counters sat a sharpening stone with a can of oil, free for all to use, and the old men who hung around the downtown of our small, Texas town would stop by to give their knives the once over. These guys carried old knives with the blades sometimes worn nearly to a toothpick. They knew how to get the blade so that it would shave the hair off their arm when they went to test it. They liked to talk too. In my twenties I was probably too much a of fool to listen to a lot of it. “Buy land” one old fella would say. “Save your money” said another. Usually it was financial wisdom they liked to share. But then how would I know. I’m not sure I listened well. It was those worn-down blades I that caught my attention. Why didn’t they just get a new knife?

The allure of a new knife appeals to me from time to time, but after carrying the same pocketknife for over 30 years, bought in that same store, I may have a sense of why my elders held on to knives they’d had for so long. Even when, for all intents and purposes, they seem to have outgrown their use or have been surpassed by newer technologies, a knife that one has carried for many years can be a kind of icon of virtues one had always hoped to possess - trustworthy, loyal, helpful perhaps.

The day wears on, and wears on us. The blade gets dull, dying away as it finds itself suited to many purposes. The knife in my pocket is a reminder that this life is one of mortification (Luke 9:23). It should be that way. The life of a servant is not meant to be precious or pampered or even safe, but useful to others. Sharpen it daily. Pray without ceasing. And then put it to use again, and let it be worn down again. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” This is the task and the gift.

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