The Hammer, The Nails, & the Heartbeat

canstockphoto8390883On a beautiful day in early summer the sound of a hammer, pounding nails into wood, echoes through the air. Birds, startled in the trees, stop their singing and fly away.

A little boy, playing in the sand, stops to listen. Horses hooves add their beat to that of the hammer and soon other hammers join the rhythm. Men’s voices—some talking, some whistling, and others singing—blend in pleasant welcome. There is a purpose, a mission.

The little boy runs to his father, “Papa! Papa! What are you making? Why do you have all your friends here?” he asks.

The father smiles at his curious son. “We are building a stable for the animals, son,” he replies. “Now run and play. This isn’t a safe place for a little boy.”

Years go by and the little boy, now grown up, tends to the animals and keeps the stable in good repair.

On a dreary day in autumn, he cuts some wood and gets a hammer and some nails. The sound of the hammer pounding nails echoes through the air and a little boy, playing in the leaves, stops to listen. Mice scatter and find a quieter place to nibble.

The little boy runs to his father, “Papa! Papa! What are you making?” he asks.

The father smiles at his curious son. “I’m building a manger for the cow I bought yesterday. She needs a place to eat her hay. Would you like to help?”

The little boy nods and takes hold of the hammer and nails his father offers him. He feels so grown up helping his father in the stable.

Many years later the sound of a donkey’s hooves, walking briskly, echoes through the air. It is a crisp winter night, and they must hurry. It is time.

They pause in front of the inn. The man leading the donkey knocks on the door, awaking the innkeeper from his sleep.

“My wife is pregnant and about to give birth, sir, do you have any room for us?” he pleads.

“I’m so sorry sir, the rooms are all full,” a gray-haired man says apologetically. “Follow me,” he says, leading them down a cobble path, “you should be warm enough in my stable. The animals help keep it from getting too chilly and the stable is well kept.”

“Thank-you, kind sir”, the younger man says, “We are grateful to have a place to stay. Better to give birth in a stable than to be out on the street.”

The young man lifts his swollen wife down from the donkey’s back and carries her into the stable where the older gentleman is preparing a bed in the hay. He drags the manger from the cow’s stall, into the humble birthing room. “A crib for the baby,” he says.

The sound of a hammer, pounding a nail into the stable wall, startles the animals in the stable. The old man creates a hook for the lantern that will give light for the young couple in the night.

A baby’s cry pierces the silent night. The young man takes the lantern from its hook to have a better look at his newborn son. A tear rolls down the young woman’s cheek, as her lips touch face. Her heart beats with love and passion for this new life. He is her son.


The animals stop eating and turn their heads, curious at the unfamiliar sights and sounds.

Throughout his childhood the little boy listens to his father, and watches as he works with his hammer, pounding nails into wood. The little boy talks and laughs with his father as they work side by side.

One day, when the boy becomes a young man, he gives his father and mother a good-bye hug and kiss. “I must go do the work I was born to do,” he says.

Years go by, as the young man moves from place to place, feeding, healing, loving and telling people about His Father.

Then the sound of a hammer pounding nails into wood echoes through the air again. The atmosphere is sad, dark and heavy. There are no singing birds, no sound of horse’s hooves, or men whistling, talking, or singing. No little boys to ask curious question and bring a smile to the man’s face, as he goes about his work.

He didn’t want this job. But he was desperate and they were willing to hire him. So, morbid as it was, he decided to do it. He needed to provide for his family and better to put bread on the table, by building crosses, than to see them starving and destitute.

The carpenter’s son, now in his thirties, runs to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Tears mingled with sweat fall from His face, like drops of blood. “I hear the sound of a hammer, Father. Can’t you take it away? It has been a pleasant sound all my life, must it be the sound of my death as well?”

Then as He listens. Through the ages of eternity He hears the sound of millions of hammers, cursing, condemning and judging… sentencing all of humanity to an eternal death.


Love overtakes Him. His agony has purpose, a mission. He cries out again. “If there is no other way to redeem them I will take this cross. Not my will Father, but Your will be done.”

The Father weeps with His Son, longing to stop the sound of the hammer, but the price is too great. His arms around His Son, He commands an army of angels to strengthen and minister to Him, preparing Him for the sound of the hammer, for it will echo again; not once, not twice, but three times.

The irreverent stomping of soldiers’ boots, shakes the ground, coming to take the young man to be judged for crimes he never committed.

The pounding of the judge’s hammer, striking the wooden table, silences the crowd. Utter silence and anticipation…

A voice breaks the stillness, “Take him, and crucify him.  I find no fault in him.”

The thunderous applause of the self-righteous and deeply religious crowd creates an electric atmosphere. There is a purpose. A mission.

The man walks into his chamber. Water splashes over his hands as he scrubs away the blood of an innocent man.

Up on a hillside a hammer, driving nails into a cross, echoes through the air.

The pounding heartbeat of a mother’s love, blends with the hammer. Her tears fall to the ground, water spilling in symbolic passion, as she kneels before the cross.

Not far from her the scoffers stand, laughing and taunting the dying young man, “Well, if you really are the Son of God, save yourself! Come down from that cross and prove to us! Then we’ll believe you!”

The spring sky, once bright and blue, turns black as ominous clouds roll in. Lightening splits the skies. Thunder shakes the earth.

A cry of anguish pierces through the darkness, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!”

One last heavy breath, and then, “It is finished!’ He cries.

A deathly silence falls on the earth.  The young man’s heart stops beating. The hammer lies silent.

The devil dances around that cross with great delight. Oh the victory! He calls his demons to join in the celebration. Finally mankind is doomed and hopeless for eternity; destined to be victims of his torment forever. He has conquered the Son of God!

A centurion’s voice shatters the silence, “Surely this was the Son of God!”

The patter of running feet, as the crowd scatters in every direction… questioning… wondering… uncertain what to believe.

Even the scoffers have stopped their laughing. This is no ordinary crucifixion day.

A sword pierces the young man’s side. Blood and water rush down the hill of Golgotha. The place of death.

The devil and his demons flee in terror at the sight of the blood of the Holy One. The place of death has become, suddenly, the promise of life.

The hammer rips the nails from the cross and out of the young man’s hands and feet, tearing at His flesh, ripping at His wounds.

The reverently subdued footsteps of one solitary disciple slip across the hill as he carries the young man’s body to the grave. A large stone scrapes against the tomb as it is rolled in front of the door to seal the His body safely inside.

Several days of silence and darkness reign as hopelessness covers the face of the earth. Family, friends, and followers of the young man, mourn his death. The devil orchestrates a careful guarding of the tomb to ensure the young man will not escape, His body not be removed.

But on the morning of the third day the sun peeks over the horizon, wrapping the world in brilliant light. The birds sing in cheerful chorus. The flowers burst in vibrant colours.

The stone rolls mysteriously away from the tomb and the angels smile at the young man rising from the grave, as if from an ordinary rest.

All creation bursts into song, “He’s Alive! He’s Alive! The Son of God has risen from the grave! He’s Alive! He’s Alive! Christ Jesus will not be death’s slave! He’s Alive! He’s Alive! Hallelujah! He’s Alive!”

The sound of the hammer, is silenced. A new rhythm is heard, echoing across the earth. More powerful than the hammer, it is an unbreakable beat, uninterrupted, and accompanied only by a whisper of Love; it is the heartbeat of Jesus. The never ending, undying invitation to eternal life in Him.

This heartbeat continues for all of time, so that, one day when He is called to bring justice to the world, the Judge’s hammer will shatter. Replaced with the sound of blood and water rushing down over a place of death, it will cover our sins. With one breath we will breathe in eternal life, our heart beating in perfect time with Eternity…

© Trudy Metzger

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What is Your Agenda?

People who have lost their way, are people who have lost their ‘why’.
~ Michael Hyatt ~

A question I’ve asked myself often is, “Why do I do ministry?” I asked it before I started and I’ve asked it even more since. Even if I think I know why I do what I do, it is critical that I stay focused on the purpose of ministry, otherwise the day to day grind can become overwhelming.

As I look back at the last few months, I would have to admit that there was a shift in focus for me. Not a new ‘why’, but I lost sight, to an extent, of the real why–the reason I said yes to God in the first place.

When God called me to ministry, many years ago–long before I ventured into it–I didn’t say yes because it looked glamorous. I said yes because I knew hurting people in the body of Christ needed His healing.

I had started to discover the magnitude of the epidemic of sexual abuse in my culture, and was shocked by it, but I knew that there was still hope. From believing I was the only victim, I went to having sixty people in my ‘world’ who admitted victimization to me, all within a relatively short time. And all of them didn’t want me to tell anyone, because of their shame.

That was only the sexual abuse. It didn’t begin to touch on the victims of violence. Granted, I knew of very few cases of violence in the Mennonite church at that time, and still believed it was only our family, and a handful of other families, at most, who had this problem. I knew of three families in all of the Conservative Mennonite Churches, and only two were extreme cases, our family and one other family. (That perception has since changed, mostly through my blogging world, and the stories you have shared with me. And while I don’t know the magnitude of the problem, I know it is a bit bigger than I had imagined.)

Other than the rumour mill or prayer chain, which at times intertwined, these things were not talked about. There was silence. Victims of abuse who did not cope well, were ‘mentally unstable’, but were offered no help or guidance, or even encouraged to seek counselling. The only advice I knew that was given, was, ‘forgive and forget’.

As this awareness grew in me, I felt compelled to do something. My ‘why’ was two-fold: to break the silence, and to bring the hope and healing of Jesus into the pain. To do that I knew I would have to share my testimony, and break the silence in my own life. I did so cautiously, mostly in one-on-one conversations, for about ten years. At first I shared in confidence, asking people to please not tell anyone. My deepest fear was that my father would discover it, deny everything, and harm me.

Shortly before dad’s death I spoke publicly for the first time. I was asked to tell my story to a group of about fifty women, none of whom were associated with my family, so the risk was small. But from the time of his death, I felt free to speak.

As I became more confident and bold, I stopped asking for confidentiality. In some ways my ‘how’ changed, but my ‘why’ never changed. My purpose, to break the silence and bring the hope of Jesus to people, never changed.

Working closely with people, in one-on-one mentoring, I have learned a lot. And I am open to new ideas, changing my methods, learning what works for a specific person, that may not be how I usually do things, but the reason for what I do isn’t up for grabs. It’s rock solid.

I break the silence because it needs to be shattered so the voices behind those invisible walls are released, and the hearts set free. We need to hear the cries of the wounded, rather than silence them, so there isn’t a spiritual holocaust in our churches. We silence them, put them in a large chamber, and slaughter their spirits, with our denial. It is wrong.

That, however, is incomplete. The real ‘why’, for me, is the ‘Jesus part’. If I cannot bring Him with me into the work I do, I will slowly die. I will have to carry your pain, your burden and your trauma. And I can’t do that. I won’t do it. I am willing to be there for you, and I love it, but I cannot carry that burden.

I have met with several individuals, Christians, who wanted to go through their stories with me, but when I got to the ‘Jesus/God part’ I was told that if I have to include that, they’re not interested. I explained that I would do them a grave injustice to do it on my own, apart from God. And, though many sessions are more about listening to people’s stories, than actually doing a lot of ‘God/Jesus talk’, if I cannot bring Him into it, then my ministry is incomplete.

For me, that part is critical for my protection and their healing. Apart from His healing, healing is incomplete. There can be healing through therapy, but it is incomplete. Not long ago I received a request to begin meeting with a medical professional who has gone through years of therapy. They asked if I would help with the spiritual healing, because it was never addressed. Therapy had helped in many ways, but it had not worked for the deeper soul healing.

In many people there is a toxic bitterness that suffocates their own souls, and poisons people around them. That is, until Jesus comes into the healing process and heals the soul. I have worked with them, and only when we invited God in, and understood what Jesus really came to do, did that toxic bitterness dissipate. Had I taken them on as clients, to simply hear their stories, I could easily have spent years wearing myself out with their emotional baggage, with no real transformation. Instead, I see people begin to transform in weeks. I see hope rise up. I see confidence where there was none. I see them go from being toxic to offering healing to others. That’s the Jesus factor.

I had lunch with my friend Cindy last week, to talk about ministry and the ‘stuff of life’ that goes with it. She and her husband have an amazing ministry for teen boys, Crane Lake Discovery Camp, and understand the battle that goes with what I do.

We were deep in conversation about ministry, about why we do what we do, when a  text came in. I had already started this blog, but that text gave me the title.

“What is your agenda?” the text said.

I knew her well enough to know she was asking on behalf of someone else. She is one of my clients, who has become a radically transformed woman since we met. I knew it couldn’t be her asking. She knows my ‘why’ from experience.

“Who’s asking?” I sent back.

“Can’t say,” the person said.

I sent her a text to tell her I’m already blogging about why I do what I do, and told her to watch for my blog, and share it with the person asking.

My answer to the question, “what is your agenda?”, is, “I don’t have one”. If I had an agenda I would go about this very differently.

If I had an agenda, for starters, I would turn to the secular world because the secular world receives people who advocate against the evils of sexual abuse, even idolizes them, and applauds them. And there are a ton of sponsors out there willing to give money for the cause. In the church there are a few, here and there, who give generously to a cause like this.

If I had an agenda, the one place I wouldn’t do my work, is in the church. I would drop the God/Jesus factor, and make a name for myself. An agenda is always driven by self, and this ministry, within the context of church, is sacrifice in every way.

Yes, there are rewards in ministry, and those spiritual rewards out-weight what the secular world has to offer, with all its money and fame, but that doesn’t remove the struggle. And that is the reason it is imperative that I remember my ‘why’.

My ‘why’ is my love for Jesus and what He has done for me, and it is my way of helping others find His healing. My ‘why’ is a thank you to the people who sacrificed for me, who sat up, late at night, listening to my pain, all the while taking me back to God for healing. My ‘why’ is your freedom.


Do you have and agenda? Or have you found your why? Does your inner person get into a knot, trying to defend, protect, or accomplish that agenda? Or does your ‘why’ give you hope that spills into the lives of all you meet?

~ An agenda is toxic, a ‘why’ is life-giving. Choose wisely. ~

© Trudy Metzger

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