I consider myself a smart guy. I can generally problem solve my way out of anything and I can usually hold up my end of a discussion with logic and reasoning.
But there are three little words that have challenged me most of my life. These words reduce me to a neanderthal-like grunt or cause me to deliver a string of profanity that would make a seasoned sailor blush. Sometimes I do both. Which three words could possibly reduce this fine Christian man to an ungodly philistine?
Some Assembly Required!
Last week my wonderful wife bought us a new outdoor gas grill since our previous one had decided a few years ago to stop being a grill and decided to be a lawn ornament instead.
She was at one of the big box stores that starts with a “W” and ends with an “almart”. There was a grill there in our price range (under a car payment but more than a nice dinner out) that had the features we were looking for (cooking raw meat in a reasonable amount of time). I told her to go for it and the purchase was made. She brought our new item home Saturday night, where it sat in the van overnight. The next morning, before church, she reminded me we had to move it out so the boys could go to church with us. Since she didn’t phrase that in the form of a question, I followed her outside.
As she opened the gate of the van, my heart got a little squeeze. I was expecting a fully or semi built grill but instead was greeted with a 3 by 4 by a 2-foot box with a picture of a beautiful grill on the side. There was a man in the picture, grilling burgers and grinning like his life was perfect. I knew right away that the man in the picture did not put that grill together.
“You didn’t pay for assembly?”
“What are you talking about?” she answered. “You know, pay $20 bucks or so to get some kid to put it together for you.”
She gave me her best WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU look. “That’s not a thing.”
“Well, they used to do that!” I counterred, trying to maintain my position while simultaneously realizing that she is correct.
“They have NEVER done that!” she answered again, wiping out the last pillar of hope I was basing my position on and sending it crashing to the ground.
Realizing that I have given my bride a reason to question my level of sanity (or lack thereof), I weakly added: “Well, they should.” I ended it there and dutifully lifted the box out of the van and set it down next to the house. I went to church, rationalizing that the grill would still be there since if anyone went to the effort of stealing it, they’d have to be the ones to put it together.
The box was still there when I got back from church, adding to my disappointment that the “Grill Fairy” did not visit whilst I was gone. My wife was still at church and I had taken the boys home. I gave the box a sideways evil glance as I walked by but it ignored me completely. The grill gave me the same courtesy.
I decided that I needed to get some things done in preparation for summer school that was starting the next day. Around two o’clock my wife called to indicate that she is on her way home after a stop at the grocery store for brats, buns and baked beans. This was her way of reminding me that we had decided to grill out that night and was wondering if I had started assembly.
After hanging up, I went outside and began my task. Now, I know that I am not a typical man, meaning I read the instructions. Notice I said READ, not UNDERSTOOD COMPLETELY.
The directions indicated that assembly time took about an hour. It was now three o’clock and I thought eating at seven would be fine. I unpacked the pieces from the box that were placed there by a master TETRIS player and proceeded to step one. At 4:39, step 32 was completed. I was proud of myself for the following accomplishments:
- All curse words remained in my head.
- No parts were left over.
- Only 3 steps had to be repeated because I tried to install part #38B instead of #38A.
- The gas ignited without the use of an outside accelerant! The wonders of modern technology.
As I was completing my task, I was consciously aware that I was using the time I set aside for my weekly blog to complete this task. I told myself (falsely) there was still enough time to complete both. As the assembly process took place, an idea began to grow.
My grill was a new addition to my yard. It has one purpose, to heat (or burn) food for consumption. It will not cut the grass or pull the weeds. The grill will not shovel the sidewalks in the winter or rake leaves in the fall. The grill has a valuable but very limited skill set. When we cannot use it, we have other options (Oven, Microwave, Toaster Oven) but it provides pleasure and experience that the other appliances rarely do. The grill is excellent for making a bratwurst. Bratwurst can be made in the other devices, but the grill is the preferred instrument.
I am a grill. I have been made for a specific purpose, one that I have an excellent skill set for. I was designed to serve and love others as I have been loved and served by God.
Also, like the grill, I came in a box. Each experience I have had “assembled” the person that God intended me to be. Although I am special in God’s eyes, he has done this for all of his children.
The difference between me and the grill is that, with the grill, all the pieces for the final product were in the box, ready to be assembled. With God’s children, there is a piece that is missing on purpose.
Many theologians and scholars have written and speculated on a phenomenon that famed Christian author C.S. Lewis defines as a “God-shaped hole” in all of us. The idea is that we are born incomplete and we are hard-wired to look beyond ourselves to fill in the missing pieces. The only thing that will make us a complete human being is to place God in our hearts, filling that void forever.
Unfortunately, Lewis writes, we often try to fill that void with everything and anything except God. Humans use material things, status among others or pride in their own abilities in order to complete themselves, Others fill the void will alcohol, drugs, sex and other vices designed to block out the pain of the missing piece. These items can fill up the hole but they drain away quickly and need to be constantly replenished.
Still, others move into unhealthy relationships where their focus becomes others, to the extreme that they cannot even consider themselves. Others become bullies and aggressors, building themselves up by tearing others down.
Finally, there are those (myself included) who have found the right piece, the perfect fit. I like to tell people that I don’t have a religion, I have a relationship! With God, I begin to understand that maybe I’m not a grill, maybe I am a microwave. With God, I begin to see my purpose, my function in his vast and grand scheme!
And when I don’t function as I should, I become like my old grill, a lawn ornament, something that needs to be moved around or moved out of the way.
Do you know your purpose or function? If you haven’t figured that out yet, might I suggest you start with your owner’s manual, the Bible? This book is a must read for everybody who wishes to become a fully functional instrument of God. Even the word “BIBLE” simply means a book or manual. I have also heard it referred to as an acronym “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”.
One of my Palzewisms is that although I am a self-made man, the instructions were in Korean. But now I am complete because on November 21, 1994, I got the last piece installed.
And I’ve been cooking for Christ ever since.
Prayer: Dear Father, Thank you for giving me an upgrade from typical human being to Child of the One True King. Although I am complete, help me to point out to others their “holes” and how they should “fill” them up.
If these words hold meaning for you, feel free to share them by email, social media or carrier pigeon.
Please leave a comment so my Mom is not the only one (She feels so lonely)