The Gospel that Hangs on a Nail (or the Devil is in the Distractions)

Recently, I was offended. Highly offended. Hmph!

For twenty-four hours I spun.

Replaying the incident. Reliving the exchange. Accusing the other to the Lord.

Stating my case. Building my defense – for my snit, for my righteous indignation, for the plan of taking further action, for the sake of the church – after all – and our witness in the community and the flock and the name of Jesus and . . . well, you get the picture.

By now, I’m sure you see Jesus rolling His eyes.

I was tempted to pour out my accusations to others – but, I’ve walked with God too long to fool myself into justifying that practice (thank you, Jesus!). I was tempted to withdraw from the relationship. Walk away. Play in another sandbox. Hmph!

I was tempted to give the other a piece of my mind – artfully, of course, as only a well-practiced believer can do. Poised to vent a heated flow of holy lava, punctuated with all manner of scripture passages, mind you, as a guard against any authentic exchange that might risk my being implicated in any shared guilt.

Until Jesus sat me down and asked if I’d like to truly understand what was fueling my passionate response.

Not really, but okay.

Pride. My pride had been wounded. And fear. Fear had sparked. Fear that I wasn’t being truly seen, heard, or valued – or worse, dismissed. Fear that I was somehow diminished or reduced in influence (a polite word for power).

What? That’s not me! I’m not prideful. I don’t live in fear. I’m not a power-monger.

No, daughter. You’re not. You’re my child – holy and redeemed. So – let’s just put those things down here, okay? Back away from the sinful snit and turn in the other direction.

Yes. I choose to live in the freedom You provide.

A tiny smidge of what I felt was justified, but it was hidden in a giant puff of nothing when Jesus just got down and direct about it.

In fact, with the eyes of God, afforded me as I sifted the exchange and my response through Scripture, I could see the hand of the enemy attempting to distract me from the work to which I’ve been called.

This wasn’t a righteous wave I had to ride to shore. It was a frighteningly close call where the evil one dragged an AED to my dead self and attempted to resurrect the zombie that was me without Christ.

I hit my knees. Confessed my fear and pride. Had a brief, authentic, unpressured conversation with the other parties about the tiny, tiny infraction – which was easily resolved.

And then I picked up my hammer and returned to work.

I thought about the witness of Noah. Surrounded by a world gone wrong. Neighbors and loved ones surrendered to corruption and evil. God tells Noah His plan to destroy them all and instructs Noah to build a boat.

By some estimations, the boat-building took about 100 years. Decades putting hammer to nail, saw to gopher wood, plumb-line to level. Decades of temptation to engage the mockers and scoffers in debates. To become absorbed in family dramas over measurements or angles. To wonder if the rains would ever really come. Exhaustion. Boredom. Discouragement. Aching arms and hearts.

Pick up the hammer, Noah. Drive the nail. This is your witness to a dying world. With every swing of the hammer – as you die to yourself – you testify to the truth of God’s plan of salvation.

And Nehemiah. I thought about his witness rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem.

As the enemy mocked and laughed. As they spread rumors about him and his people. As they pronounced his plans faulted and misinformed. As they threatened destruction. He and the people continued the work. With a hammer in one hand, a sword in the other, they built and defended their section of the wall – each family building before their own homes.

And when the enemies of God tried to trick Nehemiah to come see them that they might do him harm, inspired by God he responded, ““I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Nehemiah 6:3b ESV

Nehemiah and the people practiced the testimony of nailing their self-centered focus to the wall and slamming the hammer down on what others thought of them.

The shavings of any selfishness or self-serving plans curled at their feet as they preached the gospel that hangs on the nail of obedience in the presence of those who scoff.

And Jesus.

Jesus took on our sin and emptied Himself of pride, power, and fear. Filled with fearless, self-less, faithful love, He climbed onto the cross, denying every distraction, and felt the hammer fall on nails pressed into His own body, given for us.

And the greatest sermon He ever preached was to hang the good news on those nails and die.

And just as the rains poured down and set that ark afloat. And just as the walls of Jerusalem rose from the rubble. So, did Jesus rise to life again – testifying forever that the work of the hammer and nails will end, but the story will continue into eternity.

But only for those willing to live the gospel that hangs on a nail – those who will turn from every shiny distraction the enemy dangles and pick up their hammer and nail their lives to the work to which we’ve been called until He returns.

Love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is the work.

Don’t engage in the devil’s distractions. Preach the gospel that hangs on nails.

(Here’s a sneak peak at The Art of Hard Conversations releasing SOON!)

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    The Conversation

  1. Scotty Sullivan says:

    This is excellent Lori!! Shared to my FB page. Happy New Year blessings ????

  2. Donna says:

    I find myself in a suit also at time. I’m trying so hard to raise money for Katie and many don’t seem to care. I’m turning this quest over to God and asking HIM to multiply it. Thanks for listening, love you Lori.