A Lesson from Shop Class

In middle school, if you weren’t in chorus or band, you were required to take the other electives through a rotation every six weeks. Those of us less musically inclined would navigate through computer class, art class, music appreciation (where I learned All Along the Watchtower, thank you music teacher!), study hall and shop class. The shop instructor was one that had been around since my dad had roamed those halls. As much as I hated the way he talked down to me as the only girl who opted to stay in the class (I am nothing if not stubborn), I am grateful for what I learned in those six weeks every year in rotation.

Our 8th grade year found us drawing up blue prints, designing our own model homes. I don’t know about you all, but that’s something as a homeowner I can go back to as pivotal knowledge on square feet, dimensions and reading schematics for homes. In putting them together as a 13 year old though was quite the mess. As mildly OCD, eraser lines on blueprint paper drove me insane as I reworked the layout and design of my home project. By the end I had a mess on my hands between the drawings and cutting of foam board to mock up my design.

house-blue-printOur teacher kept after me though in the design and final mock-up because he knew I would be able to see it through to the end result, based upon the early design I had shared. There were cuts here, there…eraser lines to rework the staircase and door sizings. Ultimately I can remember presenting my final, completed project with some reservation as I noticed the flaws from mess. But he took note of the aspects I had not given a second thought to at the time-sticking with the design I had originally desired to construct regardless of the challenges I faced in the midst. We weren’t given specifics, only general instructions. Therefore I had to fill in with my design and control, putting myself into the design and giving it my stamp of ownership.

Joshua has a similar task before him, as Moses has passed and God looks to him to lead the way into the Promised Land. It’s there, the promise of deliverance before them, yet Joshua now has the lead. They are a mess, journeying 40 years in the wilderness, complaining, idolizing, doubting, questioning. Joshua could’ve easily said “Thanks God, but I think someone else can do this better.”

He could have settled for less than what God wanted because of the mess. But he didn’t. In the course of nine verses, God reiterates the strength and courage Joshua must have in this role. He had been a part of the first party out to see the new land, only to be overshadowed by the fear and doubts of the people. He had seen what they’d face. He knew the plans and promises.

Joshua knew in order to get to the promise fulfilled the mess would need to be faced. It would need to be journey through and not around. God was breathing His truth into Joshua, a promise of courage and strength in the journey ahead to see a plan fulfilled. There would be eraser marks. There would be cutting, trimming and pieces needing redesigned.

As much as I want clear instructions on the plan ahead, with His word before me and His Spirit with me I have to live into courage and strength to complete the plan set by God, just as Joshua did.

Will it be messy? Absolutely. Will I understand it all? Most assuredly not. But instead of me trying to fill in the gaps of the story, of the mess and the journey, I want to be present with Him in obedience to what He has given.

He has given me this, right now. He has told me to be strong and courageous in the blueprint where I only see one millimeter of a corner that He has designed for my life. So I put down my own pencil, and ask to be the implement for His story to be crafted in and through. To be of use to Him and not through my own hand. Knowing it is messy, knowing there will be things trimmed away, but fully believing the final product will be well worth the sacrifice of self.

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