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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: Nothing

There is an old riddle that goes like this:  “What is more powerful than God, more evil than the Devil; the poor have it, the rich lack it, and if you eat it, you die?”  The answer, of course, is nothing. 

Nothing and no one are more important than God.  Nothing lifts the heart of someone like finding new life in Jesus Christ.  Nothing is impossible for God.

So how are we at the right kind of nothing -- the type of nothing which lifts and transforms people and society for good?  How are we at putting nothing above our faith and sharing it with others?

  Or are we better at the wrong kind of nothing?  The kind of inaction which helps nobody, accomplishes nothing.

There is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

If we, as God’s people, can realize that our knowledge is of little value and that God’s least thought is much greater than our best, we will have moved a long way toward communion with him.

Perhaps one way to get to that point is to recognize that we know more about nothing than any other subject.  Oscar Wilde wrote, “I love to talk about nothing.  It’s the only thing I know anything about.” 

To come to terms with our finite nature is to have an appreciation for God’s infinite nature.  This is one of the paradoxes of faith which gives us insight into heaven.

If we get caught up in that curious land of neutral, like the transmission of a car not in drive or reverse, we are in trouble.  When we let our minds begin not to care, to stop thinking about wonder and faith, the devil jumps for joy.  That’s all he has to do, just get us not thinking, and he has us right where he wants us.

C.S. Lewis writes, “Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.”
The greatest tragedy of a Christian journey is to have spent it doing nothing.  There are souls to save, mouths to feed, miracles to experience.  There is so much to do, and there are so few to do it.

Defend me,” says William Cowper in the year 1785, “from reveries so airy, from the toil of dropping buckets into empty wells, and growing old in drawing nothing up.” 

What a terrible image.  We stand there at the empty well of life, letting the bucket down day after day and bringing it up empty every single time.

We read or listen to the news.  Nothing of dramatic importance.

We go to a meeting.  Nothing of eternal significance happens.

We watch a television program.  It turns out to be, as Jerry Seinfeld said about his own show, about absolutely nothing.

We go to church.  Nothing happens.  What a tragedy!  We are the same when we leave as when we arrived.  We consider other things more important than God.

We get caught in the age old trap of actually liking doing nothing.

Christopher Robin said, “But what I like doing best is Nothing.” 

“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time. 

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and you go and do it.” 

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh. “This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing right now.” 

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again. “It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear and not bothering.” 

“Oh!” said Pooh. ~ A.A. Milne

May God deliver us from the sin of seeing the wrong side of nothing and equip us to see the right side. 

Paul the Apostle said, after many years spent trying to destroy the Christian church, “my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)