When You And Your Boot Straps Aren’t Cutting It

When You And Your Boot Straps Aren't Cutting It -christyfitzwater.com
New pliers on a grey wooden table

“Hey,” he said, when I picked up the phone. “I forgot to unhook the water hose, now that the temperatures are dipping down low at night. Would you mind going outside and doing that while I’m thinking about it?”

“No problem,” I said. “I’ll do it right now.” (I added that part, because he knows I’m easily distracted by myself, so I wanted him to know I was heading out the door right that minute before Squirrel!)

But when I tried twisting the hose connection, there was no budging it. Are you kidding me? I thought.

To the garage I went, where I rifled through Matt’s tool box until I came up with a pair of hefty pliers. Returning to the water nozzle, I adjusted the pliers to fit the hose end, applied some torque (using that word in honor of my engineer Dad), and the hose came loose from the faucet with little effort on my part.

“Oh dear Jesus,” I said, in a spontaneous moment of worship from my crouched position, “This is what we need from you. We are stuck, so stuck in our bad habits and poor thinking. We need you to be the Pliers, if there’s to be any hope of freedom.”

You know, a person can read an instruction in the Bible about a kajillion times and want to obey it but feel powerless to make it happen. Like Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything.” So you pray but still feel anxious. Why is that?

It’s because we need an outside force to loosen the tight hold of anxiety.

I left the pliers on the counter for a whole day, so that every time I walked by I remembered how desperately I need Jesus to help me. I cannot obey the instructions of God by pulling myself up by my own bootstraps.

Do you know what Paul said in Philippians 2:13?

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Let’s combine the two truths from Paul and maybe never again allow ourselves to think of them apart:

Don’t be anxious about anything, but ask God to apply the torque necessary to move you to a better state of mind. His heavy-duty pliers are at work in you.

Assignment for the day (teacher, ya know): Get the biggest pair of pliers you can find and put them where you’ll see them. Think about your own weakness and the amazing “spiritual physics” that Jesus can bring to your stuck place.


  1. Oh, what a GREAT reminder and FUN assignment! Thanks Christy! Blessings!

  2. Hahaha so true! It’s so annoying when I walk into a room and forget what I’m doing, or forget what I was saying mid-sentence! What a great thing to think about today. It’s so frustrating sometimes when I want to do right so badly but I can’t seem to change. If I remember to go out to the garage this morning, I guarantee you my sister will ask, “why do you have pliers on your desk?” Probably everyone else who walks in my room will too.

  3. Susan Pollard says:

    Thank you, you’re such a blessing!

  4. Allison McIntosh says:

    Thank you! A much-needed nugget of wisdom for this gal today! I’m off to find some pliers-and since I married the jack of all trades, I have a plethora to choose from! 😉

  5. Such a great object lesson. I really needed to hear this right now. Thank you!

    1. I have a pair in my classroom, we use them for a few things… pulling out pegs pounded into a pumpkin in October for a fun center activity comes to mind. Won’t look at them the same again! Awesome message!

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