A Church-House Lesson

It was a simple request that should not have evoked within me such a negative response, but I just couldn’t help it.  Remaining calm was what I desired, but instead my pulse rate quickened and my palms became sweaty.

Matthew came home from Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago and told me that all of the fathers and grandfathers of the kids in his class were invited to come in and help them build things using “a real hammer, real nails, and real wood.”  It was part of a special day in his class where the kids would pretend that they were in Santa’s work-shop.  He was super-excited about it; I was not.

My relationship with tools of any kind has soured over the years with me misusing them, neglecting them, and on occasion calling them names.  In return, they probably poor-mouth me behind my back by questioning my manhood or calling me a pansy like my elementary school gym teacher used to do.  I’ve apologized to them a few times, but it hasn’t seemed to help them perform any better for me.  I remain “mechanically declined.”

When Matthew asked me if I would come to school and help him build something, I lowered my head, leaned against the refrigerator, and groaned.  This is when my wife spoke on my behalf by telling Matthew that I would love to help him on that special day. 

I’m not quite sure where she got that particular idea, but when she said it his eyes lit up, a big smile covered on his face, and he let out a big yell of excitement.  So I knew that I had to give it a try.

I arrived in his classroom at 8am on the special day and listened to the preliminary instructions given by the teacher.  Actually, I only half-listened due to feeling a little weird.  No matter how many times I visit a Kindergarten classroom, it always makes me feel even more out-of-place than normal since I am over six and a half feet tall and everything in the room is built for kids who could use my shirt as a tent.  Using an elementary school restroom is even stranger, but that is another story for another day.

The teacher split the students up into groups of two and assigned them to an adult.  Matthew was put in my group along with an unsuspecting little girl who had no way of knowing about my ongoing feud with tools. With wood of various shapes and sizes at their disposal, they were told to pick out and few pieces and tell me what they would like for me to build. 

After they picked out their wood and I picked up a hammer and plenty of nails, I found an open space on the carpet and looked at these two little kids who had far too much faith in me.  With a big sigh, I asked the little girl what she wanted me to build.  She said, “A bunk bed for my Barbie dolls.”  She showed me how she wanted it to look and I set to work with complete confidence that I was going to screw it up. 

Sure enough, after a decent start, I split one of the pieces of wood.  I asked the girl if she wanted me to start over with a different piece of wood.  She said no, it would be fine.  So I kept going and split the would again.  I looked at it and she looked at it, still with a big smile on her face.  She said that it would be ok if it was just a single bed and not a bunk bed, bless her heart.  I would like to say that I split the wood because the nails were too big for the kind of wood we were using, but it was probably because IHADNOIDEAWHATIWASDOING. 

After finishing the bed that the sweet girl was amazingly satisfied with, Matthew informed me that he wanted me to build an airplane.  I looked down at the wood that Matthew had picked out and tried to imagine how in the world I was going to make that happen.  Then I looked over at the other men helping their kids make things like a miniature skateboard with a ramp and a fully functioning squirrel feeder.  Seeing them almost gave me enough confidence to think that I could actually build an airplane.  Thankfully, before began, Matthew changed his mind and asked me to build him a “church-house.”

We talked about how he wanted it to look and decided that it should just have three walls, a roof, and a “steeple-looking-thing” at the top.  The reason for the design only having 3 walls was partly because he wanted to be able see inside of it and mainly because I was pretty sure doing anything more would stretch my suspect carpentry skills to their breaking point. 

After I nailed the last nail into place, I looked at it and decided that it looked more like a “church-shack” than a “church-house.”  But Matthew didn’t care.  With great pride he walked up to his teacher to display his father’s craftmanship.  Then he sat down and drew a cross on it along with a few windows. 

I didn’t realize just how proud of it he was until I brought him and his little “church-house” home that afternoon and he carried it around for 3 straight days like it was a trophy that he had won for “Best Shack.”

Even though I was glad he liked it, I still didn’t think much of it until about the third day.  It is amazing how something so seemingly insignificant can help to teach or reinforce a profound lesson.

I had noticed that Matthew was pretending that one of his Batman action figures was preaching inside of the “church-house.”  I told him that he could set some of his other actions figures up inside of it and pretend like they were listening to Batman preach.  He said, “Or I could put a bunch of Transformers in there.”  I replied, “That’s silly–Transformers don’t go to church.”

I recognized how wrong that statement was almost immediately.  While the Autobots and Decepticons of the Transformers universe are fictional and do not attend church services, there are real transformers that certainly do.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ have become new creatures.  We have been transformed by virtue of having been born again. 

Not only have we believers been transformed by accepting the free gift of salvation, we should be in the process of continually being transformed and conformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  Some followers of Christ may have been misled to think that once they become Christians that their journey is over.  The truth is, our journey has just begun.

Not one person alive who has experienced salvation is perfect.  Christ is not done with us yet.  His desire is for us to be like Him. 

As a follower of Christ, I am a transformer that needs to keep being transformed by the renewing of my mind each day.  I am not the me that I will one day be.  To be all that God created me to be, I must remember that He is the potter and that I are the clay and that I must allow Him complete control to mold me as He sees fit.

If your spiritual growth has stagnated, please know that it doesn’t have to stay that way.  The same God that created you, sustains you, and saved you still loves you far more than you could ever imagine.  He has not gotten out of the transformation business.

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