I like to watch shows about how things are made. Whether it is harvesting food and sorting out the stems and leaves from the edible content, or casting a complex part from molten material, it is fun for me to learn how everyday items are crafted from raw materials. When it comes to mechanical products, though, sometimes it makes more sense to cut components out of metal sheets, and then form and join them (through welding or fasteners) into a complex machine. Often, the scrap parts that aren’t used from the original sheet can be melted down and re-used.
While metal can be cut with a plasma beam or even a mechanical saw, a sufficiently strong jet of water can actually cut through metal, as well. Sometimes, an abrasive is included in the water, to allow it to cut faster, but water itself can be pretty powerful. Advantages of this cutting method (according to Wikipedia) include the cooling effect of the water spray, and the precision of the cut itself.
I think that I experienced early water-jet cutting when I was a kid, though. My parents had a Water-Pik® dental cleaner, which would spray water at high pressure to clean in-between one’s teeth. This was especially important when I was wearing braces. However, I remember that the high-pressure jet could also cause some gum bleeding. In my memory (substantially amended by time), I envision this water-jet cutting through my gums like an industrial cutter through steel!
Now, I don’t want to pick on this company (no pun intended), since my unhealthy gums were probably at least partially – if not entirely – to blame. I suspect that their products have also improved over the years, perhaps with settings to not be quite so severe for those who are just starting to use them.
In this context, though, there is another mechanism by which unnecessary or harmful things are separated from what the designer intended (whether metal scrap or unwanted food on our teeth):
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV
God’s Word (found in the Bible, the person and teaching of Jesus Christ, and the voice of the Holy Spirit) is able to cut through any front or façade that we might put up, as we try and hide the junk in our lives. God is not fooled by our “church face”, or the nice pictures we post on social media. Not only does He see our heart, but His Word clearly identifies things in our lives that shouldn’t be there.
Like water-jet cutting, it separates the “scrap” of our lives from God’s plan and His purpose for us. What is left is custom-designed for each of us to be the best human being that we can be, designed specifically by our Maker, and ready to be formed and “assembled” into our role within His plan.
Even what is cut away from our lives can have value, though. As we discard things our lives that aren’t meant to be there, God can “re-melt” or re-purpose them for the benefit of others. This may take the form of showing those around us how much better our lives are without junk that slows us down (see Hebrews 12:1-2), or – when we give up good things for specific, better opportunities where God wants us to serve – we may open up ministries for others to serve in a place where their God-given talents are an even better fit.
Like the Water-Pik, though, it can be uncomfortable to have unnecessary things in our lives washed away. There might be some bleeding (hopefully, just the metaphorical kind) or tears as we are separated from time-wasters, unhealthy relationships, fruitless habits, or sinful indulgences. Still, in the end, what is left is cleaner, healthier, and ready to do it’s job (like my teeth, ready to sink into some good food).
So, spend time with God’s Word today. Listen for His direction and seek out where you need to let Him trim some unnecessary content from your life (or blast out junk that is harming you or slowing you down). It might be uncomfortable, but it’s better than letting the rest of the world shape you. In the end, you’ll be more like the amazing, effective, spiritually-healthy person that God wants you to be.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.