There are word combinations in the English language that I despise: “While you are up, can you…?” Note to readers…waiting until I am up to have me satisfy your whims is not adorable; it’s annoying. But I stray from the topic at hand.
Because there is one word combination in the English language that makes me want to heave (as in, you know, projectile vomiting). I am not talking about the mildly upset stomach followed by the quasi-catch-in-the-throat-near-miss vomit. No, I am talking about solar system departure trajectory, full on, don’t-get-in-the-way-or-you’ll-be-knocked-down-and-covered-with-gastric-juices-for-life vomit.
What words, you ask (so as to never utter them in my presence), might generate such a depraved, visceral (literally) response? Here they are…mark them down…do not say them to me: “SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”
Now, I know that there are genuine he men and she women whose day is made more delightful by put-it-together-yourself-because-they-were-too-lazy-to-do-it-at-the-factory projects. My hat is off to them (actually, my hat was off anyway, but I needed a handy cliché).
Seriously, I know some ace project people who are both genuinely good at what they do and whose hearts thump with delight at the mere prospect of such projects. You probably know some people like that too. You may even be one. You know who you are…you are barely on step one of the current project and yet you have already cast your eye on the next project. God bless you.
But…I am not a “SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” kind of person. This whacked me again when I was beginning to put together a chair. Why I was putting the chair together is a post for another day. But there I was, through no fault of my own, taking the chair pieces out of the boxes so as to lay them out and have each piece handy for the assembly.
Unpacking the pieces is what got me riled up. The pieces were each heavily fortified with nuclear detonation proof plastic and then sealed with THAT KIND of tape. The kind of tape that will not detape itself…until you have tried to cut it with every sharp object at hand…and then cut your hand…until the tape finally yields only to reveal the INNER PLASTIC and TAPE.
And this was my thought in that moment: wouldn’t it have been easier just to assemble the stinking chair?!? I mean, rather than wrap each little piece in multiple shrouds of bomb proof tape and plastic, wouldn’t it be simpler to just assemble the stinking chair?!? [I know, I have said “stinking” twice…it’s for, you know, emphasis.]
Of course the mere unwrapping of all the pieces is followed by the preliminary reading of the assembly instructions. You have seen these instructions. They are cobbled together by people whose first language is, indeed, English, but who have such demented minds that they use Google Translate to render the instructions through the entire list of available languages in the app before re-rendering the instructions in English.
That process takes a sentence like, “Identify the four hex nuts and lay them side-by-side,” and transmogrifies it into something like, “Put your left hand in, take your left hand out, put your left hand in and then you shake the nearest dog’s tail until the dog eats the turnips left over from the guillotine.” [This is not hyperbole; you know it’s true.]
You have to read the instructions so many times that you forget why you started reading them in the first place. And then you remember: SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.
I so loathe those words…unless, of course, unless…they are about me. Because I know that I am a horrible mess of a work in progress and I am so very grateful that Jesus has decided to work in me (and sometimes…rarely, but sometimes, through me). I thank God that His work in me is not dependent upon my ability to bring it about.
Oh sure, I read the instructions (His are plain enough) and I do my best to follow along. But then I remember that it is God who is at work in me to accomplish His purposes.
And the very funny thing is…He delights in the project–He’s one of those project types. The Master Carpenter who labored over His neighbors’ household needs, is now at work to perfect His strength right here…in the middle of me.
I, of course, am very much more complicated than a chair that comes in a box. Presuming that I slog my way through the instructions, stick with the project, find that runaway bolt that must have rolled into the heater vent (again!), and connect all the connections…the chair will be assembled. It will stay that way; it won’t try to disassemble itself. But I will…try to disassemble myself, that is.
And Jesus starts again…with me…putting me back aright and pouring out His compassion while I am in the very process of self-disassembly. Oh, great love! Oh, great mercy! Oh, great power! Oh, great patience!
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
© All rights reserved. Scripture quotations from the NIV.