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“If I Had A Hammer!” Genesis 32:1-21 Key verse(s): 9-12:“Then Jacob prayed, ‘O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups.”



“O my goodness! If I don’t act right now, that thing is going to fall and dent the car!” I sped into motion. “Where’s that hammer? Where did I put it” I looked up to see my old nemesis, the garage door from “you no where”, about to slam headlong into my wife’s car. One of those sixteen foot “behemoth-brand” garage doors, it had no doubt been designed not only to withstand wind and weather but also direct hits by kamikaze airplanes. The hinged giant weighed hundreds of pounds and had been fickle from the day I moved it from one side of the garage to the other. Simply, it liked coming off-track. My wife had tried to open it herself once and it promptly came off-track not just on the one side but also the other. Evidently it really wanted to impress on her first effort. Needless to say, my wife wasn’t impressed. Had she the ability to contend with it at the moment, it would have felt her wrath. She reserved that for me however.


I had succeeded in coming up with a system of dealing with the door for the most part. I had even taught my son the nuances of opening and closing so that, should I be gone, there would be a “recruit” available to “deal” with the door. It was a subtle combination of touch, speed and, of course, the five-pound hammer that I kept tucked away on a workbench next to the door. “It was all in the wrists.” I told my son. It’s your wrists and stamina verses the doors knack for going off-track. It’s man against door. And you’re much smarter than the door.” I told him. Success was a matter of taking command and making the door know who was boss. Over time the opening and closing of the door had become a contest. Most of the time man won, succeeding in stopping the pull or the push just in a nick of time; preventing the door from cleverly extracting a wheel here or popping a hinge there. But, there were those times when, mind wandering for a moment and, perhaps, a hand gloved and not able to feel the door’s impulses, the door would get the jump on me and beat me. That’s where the hammer comes in. If a wheel comes off track you simple have to stop everything that you are doing; find the culprit and hammer it back into ranks. It was nearly a fool-proof system unless, of course, some fool didn’t put the hammer back.


Such was the situation this morning when, in one of those rare moments, the door not only came off-track but now hung perilously close to top of my wife’s car. There it stood, creaking and groaning like some old dinosaur, popping one wheel at a time, bending the track to its maximum, straining to come to its final rest atop an innocent Jetta. “Where’s my hammer!” It wasn’t where I “always put it”! Suddenly I was filled with fear. If that door smashed the Jetta I knew I would be in very serious trouble having told my wife many times that I could “handle” it and she need not “worry” about it. Panic set in. In my mind were those projected images of a topless Jetta and a very angry wife who wanted to use her car this very morning. Fight or flight. I knew I had to do something. It was a choice of thinking or acting. Stepping out of character, I chose the first. Instead of choosing the norm, that being to run around the garage frantically looking for the hammer, I chose to ponder for the moment. Suddenly, it struck me. There was enough clearance to move Holly’s car out of the garage and thereby out of danger! Man -1. Door-0! The hammer? Out in the shed where I put it.


Fear happens! We are surrounded by situations and circumstances that produce fear in our lives. There is nothing wrong with being afraid. God had given us the emotion for a reason. Fear makes us stop when we need to stop. Fear helps us to avoid wrong or dangerous situations. Fear, like any other emotion however, needs to be handled with care. When it ceases to be our tool, the thing that we use to overcome and avoid, then it becomes our enemy and not our friend. Jacob knew fear. He had double-crossed his brother and tricked his father into giving him his brother’s blessing. For over twenty years he had lived with the guilt of what he had done. Twenty years is a long time to think about consequences; it is also a long time to build up a dreadful fear of those consequences. Now, Jacob was returning home to his father’s land. He knew that his brother Esau would be there to greet him. If vengeance was on his mind, Jacob would be a sitting duck. Suddenly, gripped with fear, the wrath of his brother hanging perilously above his head, Jacob knew he had to make a choice. Fight or flight! Think or act? Jacob chose rightly. He chose to pray at the height of his fear and God gave him the courage to act in confidence and not in fear. When we are gripped by fear, running about frantically searching for our lost courage will only makes matters worse. Stop, pray and act. It may not be a “hammer” but it works a whole lot better.

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