“Mom, I need money for shop materials this week,” Jolene’s teen son, Rick, mentioned as he noticed her paying bills.
She has to have money right now or she wouldn’t be working on bills.
When he told her, the single mom sucked in a ragged breath, let it out slowly—she’d heard that was the key to relieving stress–and finally asked, “What it is you want to build?”
“A dog sled for our dog to pull.”
“Are we talking about the dog who doesn’t know how to walk on a leash and whose only trick is begging for table scraps?”
“I guess. But she’s smart. I can train her.”
“There’s no snow now until late in the fall.”
“That’s okay. With the time until the next snow, that gives me plenty of time to perfect it.”
“I will take care of the cost of your shop materials on one condition.”
“That you build a mud room bench first.” She got out a measuring tape and showed him. She wrote down the measurements and drew the creation with more detail than God’s instructions to Noah for the ark. “See—each of us can sit down and take off our boots, then we can put them inside the seat. Do you understand this project?”
Then some time later, Rick mentioned, “I’d like to borrow the truck tomorrow after school so I can bring home my project.”
“Okay!” Jolene was excited she’d have her mud room bench for the muddy spring season.
But as soon as Rick hefted his project through the door, she knew it wasn’t her carefully planned custom bench.
Out of curved oak and far more complicated than her bench was a creation the size of a large chest freezer: Rick’s dog sled.
“Where’s the bench?”
“I’m not quite done with it.”
The next time the 16-year-old needed the truck to pick up the shop project, Jolene knew it had to be a mudroom bench.
And when he walked in the door with the structure built out of quality lumber, she wondered what happened to her measurements. It was tall enough to be a kitchen island.
“See, Mom,” the long-legged teen explained, “you don’t even have to bend your knees to sit on it.”
“Where’s the hinged compartment for dirty boots?”
“Ah…Not enough lumber or room to build that.”
“It’s really sturdy.”
Rather than remind and embarrass him that the unit wasn’t the design or the measurements she needed, she hid her disappointment and simply thanked him for all his hard work.
Do we ever fail to follow God’s instructions?
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, the Israelite community ended up wandering in the desert of what is now the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. God gave the Israelites specific instructions, who was to do what, how the priests would dress, right down to tabernacle measurements in cubits and what materials to use. It is detailed in Exodus chapters 35 to 40.
Whatever it took, God expected them to follow the instructions. It was a matter of demonstrating obedience.
Although Jesus life, ministry, teachings, miracles, and atonement for our sins changed much, Jesus demonstrated and taught how the law had become bigger with fewer words and less tangible measurements.
Simply, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” [John 14: 23-24]
Love infuses Jesus’ teaching on the concepts of the law with his life, words, and actions. When asked about the most important commandment, he answered, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12: 29-31]
Added to this are Apostle John’s words, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” [1John 3:17-18]
Love is the answer.
What is the question?
How are you showing love to others in your home?
How can you show kindness, encouragement, affection for each other and faith in God beginning in your family? Among your friends and coworkers?
Can those in your world identify you as a Christian by your actions?
God’s instructions are distilled down to love. Take courage and initiate compassion, kindness, generosity, time and tenderhearted listening. The end result is more useful and timely than a mud room bench. Love changes hearts and lives. Tempering our thoughts, words and actions with Christ’s love will be following his instructions right down to the last inch—or cubit—for all time.
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]