Constructive Connections is a fiction series. They are beginning tales of how each person is crafted by God to fulfill a purpose, to enhance the narrative of life. By contributing unique talents to serve one another, a tower God calls us to construct begins to form for His joy.
“I’m here,” I typed out in the lower third. “Now what?”
There was lag. Hovering over the logout, ready to retreat, a response came: “Now we listen; now we watch.”
My brother Stanley invited me through social media to watch a church livestream sermon. Stanley and I hadn’t spoken in months. I was surprised to see his request on my feed. In my head, I imagined him camping in the mountains somewhere, surfing the coast waters, or jail. Adventure was his passion, usually to his own detriment. My little brother, running a livestream…for a church… piqued my interest.
As the message unfolded, it related to purpose and who we were meant to be in God’s Kingdom. The pastor talked of how God gifts us attributes through the Holy Spirit which ultimately add value to the Body of Christ. Spirit gifts such as faith, encouragement, creativity, teaching, discernment, and other aptitudes; God determines and blesses individuals with specific characteristics. All sermons, I guess, tend to be focused about who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do, but most messages I had experienced in the past focused on guilt regarding what we had done 6 out of 7 days of the week. Hearing with different ears, I leaned in.
Growing up literally in the church, our home was just off the sanctuary; to the left. We never left church because church was home. I attended every Sunday sermon and every youth group. Our week focused around proper name “Church”. It was more like a person to my parents than a building filled, as my teenage-self translated, with two-faced humans. Forming within the walls was a youth making up a sweep of attitudes and actions enhancing my dual personas. Singing hymns in the morning, then going to my room to blast songs filled with sexist, racist, whatever-ist I could find to grab the attention of my own parents, put me snug alongside the two-face group. They didn’t notice; Church stood in the way. So, I turned away from Church and just talked to Jesus when I needed Him.
The sermon related many different giftings of the Spirit; from ones I desperately wanted, to the ones I cringed at considering to be about myself. I related most to being discerning. Recognizing inconsistencies is where I have been stuck for a while; especially God’s inconsistencies. My son Cody died from complications of pneumonia two years ago. He was 15. I prayed. I prayed again. I made Cody pray. We buried him on a crisp October Monday. Inconsistent. Noticing the conflicting messages of Jesus healing, and not seeing it in Cody’s short lifespan, sent me down in the pit. And that pit had many caverns that I thought I could travel within. They just lead to more darkness, more anger, more sadness, more faithlessness. Devoid of light.
I noticed comments along the lower third: “Doesn’t that sound like Mabel? She is such an intercessor!” “Yeah! And how about Jacob, he’s all about helps.” Then I read a comment from the host site: “What about Cody? He had the spirit of craftsmanship, hu?”
Tears welled up. Cody was always making. He was stuck in the house most days because of his sicknesses. My son was born with immune deficiencies; he had regular bouts with simple illnesses which frequently turned into ER visits.
“Remember the wooden spoon set he carved?” I wrote back.
“LOL! Yeah, he said he was going to make forks, but he was worried about tongue splinters!” Stanley fired back. I smiled, picturing his goofy smile on the other side of the screen.
“And then he carved about 100 of those cute bear-paws out of soap,” I stopped typing as the realization hit me square in the heart; the reason Cody made them. “Cody wanted paw soaps to go to the homeless. He said they were small enough to fit into their pockets. The less fortunate could use paw soaps to clean up during their travels, Cody used to say.”
“I remember. Yep, craftsmanship…for sure,” Stanley wrote back.
I got up and wandered into Cody’s room. It was easy to find the 3 containers labeled “Paws for your paws” on the top shelf of his closet. He always had a fun sense of corniness. “Mom, I want to go to the shelter tomorrow to give these out,” but we never made it. He was in the hospital the next week and the following, he was gone.
Taking down the boxes, I rushed back to the computer. The feed was still up even though the sermon was over.
“Stanley? Does your church have a shelter or a food bank?”
Sharing the craft my son had made was my first step out of the darkness. It is amazing how such a little thing, a bauble of soap, can put a smile on someone’s face. The smile lights the heart, the heart lights the body, and the darkness becomes less and less. My son had been gifted the spirit of Craftsmanship for a very special reason. Even though he is gone, he is still able to give off light.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV
~Written by Jennifer Love