My dad is a master toy maker. He has made chickens, grasshoppers, ducks, bulldozers, dump trucks, ferry boats, cars, trains, and more for his grandkids. He is currently adding train cars to our family’s collection. My sister and I each get a set of toys for our kids, but each new grandchild’s first toy is for them specifically. It’s the first in the collection and it’s my favourite treasure: the baby rattle.
Due to a long distance move and shoulder surgery, my daughter didn’t receive her rattle until this last month at nearly 10 months old. It was worth the wait though, because for the first time I got to watch my dad turn a rattle on his lathe. Purple heart is the best looking wood for toys in my opinion so I requested this for my daughter. As I watched the block of wood begin to turn, my dad applied pressure to the cutting tools and I was instantly nervous. The wood wasn’t shaving away like I thought it would, it was splintering and when he stopped the lathe, chunks had come away. Apparently, purple heart is not the easiest wood to turn. He kept at it though and I was mesmerized at how the rough wood started to smooth.
He added pressure carefully, moving the tool across the surface of the soon to be rattle and a form took shape. I was struck at how gnarly it looked at first and how much initially came away. The next phase took the longest. Sanding with increasingly finer and finer sand paper, my dad smoothed the wood from rough to smooth, to smoother, to “I don’t think it gets smoother than that.” The final phase was my favourite to witness. He burnished the wood by turning the rattle rapidly on the lathe while holding the sawdust in his hand against the rattle. The scraps refined the remaining, finished piece. Lastly he added mineral oil which deepened the colour and made the wood almost shine.
While he turned the rattle, I reflected on how the life of a disciple was similar to that piece of wood. We all start off rough. When we first come to faith, God strips away big chunks of our old life, but over time the refining becomes subtler. It takes ever-finer attunement to living like Jesus. Each time my dad reached for another piece of sand paper I thought, “Seriously! You are going to sand it more. This is taking forever!” Discipleship can be like that. I sometimes say to God, “Seriously! Didn’t I already conquer that sin in my life enough? You want to do more work on me in this area—didn’t we do enough there already!”
Lent is the sandpaper season of discipleship. Whether you give something up, or take something on during this season, allow God to use it to refine you. I love that the Church year provides us this annual season to put ourselves at the mercy of the Master Craftsman and allow Him to work on us just a bit more. The good news is it is His work, you simply allow Him to apply the tools.
Editor, Lenten Reader 2018
Lenten Reader 2018
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