The right tool for the job

Rev Ian Harbinson

12.2.2022 | Mission in Ireland, Farming & Rural Life

Looking for a tool recently, Ian Harbinson rooted through an old toolbox he realised that most of them had been used by his father on the farm. It made him think that today’s farmer needs to be skilled at so many tasks, often fixing what is broken. He reminds us that God sent into this broken world a Saviour who came to work in our innermost brokenness.

Things break. I set out to fix something lately and needed just the right tool for the job - a special wrench. Only one would do. So I went rooting through my old toolboxes and realised that many of the bits and pieces I had, and had learned how to use, were from farming days with my father.

Not ‘just a farmer’

Today’s farmer has to be multi-skilled. Beyond a knowledge of animals and crops, add skills like vet, soil expert, builder, joiner, mechanic, and HR manager to the job description. Then add adeptness with finance and a good business head, which are not optional extras! Such is the complexity of the industry. So never, ever, say ‘I am just a farmer’. You are a very multi-skilled person.

God has made us all different, and given us unique and special skills to fulfil so many purposes. We need to respect and value every person’s God-given gifts and skills.

Not only do ‘things’ break, even our bodies can too. Developing pancreatic cancer a few years ago I came to be in awe of the skill and vast array of tools that today’s surgeon has - all well used to remove a considerable part of my insides! Now the ‘tools’ of skilled pharmacists - a cocktail of medications - replace what my body can no longer make, digest my food, and frankly keep me alive.

But we all know brokenness isn’t limited to the physical, it impacts minds, emotions, relationships, even society. Sadly, as we look at our world today we see so much that is broken. The best minds seem to go round in circles seeking for ‘tools’ to fix things.

Only God has the right tool to fix our hearts

Some are good and we benefit from them. Yet ultimately, as we turn to the Bible we discover that the problem is not in outward things - but our innermost being, or in what the Bible terms, ‘the heart’. Evil actions begin with an evil idea in ‘the heart’. Selfishness comes from a self-centred ‘heart’ (see Matthew 15:19.) Only God knows the right tool to ‘fix’ this.

Roy Lessin put it well when he said this, “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Saviour.”

Fifty-nine times in the Bible, we find the word ‘Saviour’. Jesus’ disciple John sums it up like this “...And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).

That Saviour, Jesus, came as one of us into a broken world; lived a perfect life, died on a cross, and rose again. He comes to work in our inner brokenness, forgiving and changing us. It is a process that goes on for the whole of our lives, for I’ve found I need to be continually fixed and changed from all that is broken in my life. I’m being prepared for heaven, where all brokenness will be fixed forever. What a hope! Have you accepted God’s Saviour, the only One?

Ian was brought up on a dairy farm near Limavady. He served as a minister in Ballyroney and Drumlee congregations in south County Down and in Moneydig, County Londonderry. He has had to retire due to illness and now offers support and counselling to others going through a cancer experience.

His blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.

You can look at other blogs in this series here. If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at or call him on 07938 488 372.

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