I have these rules, guidelines really. They are things I’ve learned or things I aspire to be better at. This particular rule is something family and friends know well about me. You see, I almost always wear a small worn black leather pouch on my belt containing a Leatherman brand multi-tool. But the basis for the rule goes back to my youth.
For those not familiar with Leatherman or multi-tools let me describe them. Basically, they are foldable pliers with various tools and knives in the handle. My current Leatherman boasts 14 tools in a 4x1x2 inch folded marvel. Think of it as an ever-ready toolkit with pliers, knife, screwdrivers, ruler, scissors, can opener, file, and wire cutter.
Over the years my Leatherman has been used to fix all manner of things from computers to guitars to stoves to eyeglasses. It’s always there to open packages and has even been used for some first-aid. You could say that my Leatherman and I are attached at the hip.
But this rule is really a retelling of an older rule from my Boy Scout days – Be Prepared. The idea, of course, is to be ready for whatever may come around the corner. Whether that’s knowing first-aid, how to start a campfire, handle an ax, or what to do in an emergency. It doesn’t mean carrying everything you may need but know what to do for whatever challenges come around.
Would it surprise you that the Bible says something similar? Peter said, “you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15, NLT) To put an even sharper point on it, Peter was giving this instruction to folks suffering hardship and persecution.
So this rule really speaks about three types of readiness. Readiness to tackle the many small jobs suitable for a Leatherman. A readiness for whatever real-life challenges may come up. Whether that’s knowing how to change a tire or how to address a bleeding cut. But also a readiness to talk about our hope in Jesus. Readiness is not carrying around a heavy fully loaded toolkit, perfect medical knowledge, or the totality of theological insights. It is carrying what you can.
My Leatherman only weighs a few ounces. It can’t do everything but it can do enough. While I know how to dress a wound I don’t know what a doctor knows. Likewise, we can’t answer everyone’s questions about God, but we can be ready to talk about our personal hope and experience in Christ. It’s kind of like that time Jesus was teaching and the people were hungry.
On that day there were well over 5000 hungry souls and all the disciples could gather was five small loaves of bread and a few fish. Feeding them all seemed impossible. But Jesus said, “Bring the loaves and fish here to me.” (Matthew 5:18). I hear in Jesus’ statement a whisper of “it is enough, I can work with that.” You may only know one verse of the Bible, and while more is better, Jesus can multiply what you do have to address what seems impossible.
Be Prepared and always carry a Leatherman is not about having every tool for every possible challenge. That would be impossible to carry. It is about carrying just enough tools to bring hope to a bleak and broken moment. Whether that is a broken lamp, a broken body or a broken heart.