Faith General Identity

No Shortcuts

We all know that one guy………….. he’s ridiculously talented and seems to be good at everything he tries. For some reason, it appears as if he has never broken a sweat or failed in the process of getting to where he’s at today. Sadly, that is not my story, and chances are, it’s not yours either. If you are anything like me, my lessons have always been learned the hard way. When I was a kid, I was convinced I could ride my bike up car ramps to jump my bike. It was only after ignoring my father’s advice and eating some dirt that I realized that it probably wasn’t the best idea. As much as I’d like to say I grew up and far away from learning things the hard way. But that’s just not the truth. About four years ago, I decided I wanted to make knives. In the same way, I have failed more than I care to admit in the process of trying to master a craft. I’ve broken blades in half, thrown knives out of my shop, and screamed out of pure frustration more times than I can even quantify. Social media makes it so much worse. I get to watch the highlight reels of hundreds of other craftsmen and ponder as to why I am so seemingly inadequate. 

Breaking Point

That all changed for me when I hit a breaking point one day and reached out for help. I contacted a local knifemaker to help me with my grinding technique. I sent him pictures of my work and told him what I was struggling with. He asked me one question “How many knives have you made?” With a sense of pride, I told him that at that point I had made over 150 knives. Without a pause, his simple response was “Alright make 1000 knives, and if you’re still struggling then reach out.” WHAT A FREAKING JERK……………or so I thought. In time, after some honest assessment of myself, the words of the knifemaker hit home. You see it’s not that the blades I was making were bad, it’s the fact that they weren’t as good as everyone else’s. I wasn’t trying to work at my best and learn from the process. It wasn’t that my knives were bad, the truth is that I was selling more blades than ever before, I was just wanting to measure up to the blade makers I was comparing myself to. The reality is that even when you try your hardest some things just take time to get better at. Jesus rescued me from that trap of comparison and taught me a very valuable lesson about life through the process of working with my hands… there are NO shortcuts.

Invitation to a Journey

As men, wouldn’t it be nice if we never failed? If we could nail our relationships, finances,  spiritual life, passions, and work the first time every time without screwing things up. We hate failure perhaps more than anything else. Most of us are doing our best as it is to hold our crap together without falling apart. It stings all that much more when we stumble and the enemy comes to cast doubt in ourselves and, ultimately, in the goodness of God. There is one thing we so often forget………… Jesus is leading you! You pray that you want to be a better man, but I want you to seriously ask yourself what this process is supposed to look like? Is Jesus going to just magically impart it to you or is he going to invite you on a journey? If you’ve opened up your Bible lately, I think it‘s safe to assume it’s the latter. 

God on Your Path

So often I feel as if we want to slay Giants before we spend time as a shepherd, or we want to rule kingdoms before we’ve hidden in the caves. This is one of my favorite things about God. He’s deeply invested in our story and the men we are becoming. We need only to choose to partner with him and we could gain interpretation for our failure and a context to see that God is giving us opportunities to grow in our deepest places of inadequacy. You see, there are no shortcuts and even though it is the harder path, it makes me fall in love with Jesus that much more. Our God is not trying to create an army of incapable mindless drones. If that were the case he could have left David in the fields, Peter in the boat, or even allow Jesus to forgo going to the cross. The reality is that God uses the hard seasons to grow us so that we are capable to partner with Him in bringing hope and light to a very broken world. In my life, God has used craftsmanship to speak lessons that resonate with the deepest parts of my heart. For you, it might be something different and that’s ok, but I would certainly challenge you with this. The next time you fail at something, I want you to try and find it in your heart to realize that you are being led somewhere beautiful and be thankful that our God isn’t going to take any shortcuts in the process of your becoming.

Warrior On!

Justin Wells
Hammer and Spear Knives |

Justin Wells is a 20-something warrior who lives in the woods of Southeast Missouri with his new bride. Growing up in church his whole life, Jesus came after Justin's heart a couple of years ago and rescued him from the religious fog. Now it’s his goal to show other guys the truth of this wild adventure known as the gospel and how there is a real relationship to be had with Jesus. You can find Justin on Instagram and discover more about his life and his knives. Justin has also been featured in And Sons Magazine- Volume 7.

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