What's in Your Shed?
“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10, NRSV)
Someone sent me a terrific television commercial a few days ago. It’s from a German pharmacy company and apparently came out late last year. It’s been shared widely via the Internet, but I had not seen it until recently. It starts out with an older man going to his storage shed and uncovering an old kettlebell. He tries to lift it but can barely get it off the ground. He’s obviously disappointed with himself, that he can’t do any better. But every morning, he wakes up and goes to practice lifting that kettlebell. His neighbors are watching and wondering what he’s up too - especially when he drops the kettlebell and loudly cries out in frustration over his lack of strength. But he keeps at it. Every morning, before he lifts the kettlebell, he places a framed photo where he can see it, though we the viewers can’t see what’s in the frame.
The season changes and there is snow on the ground, and finally, this determined man can lift his heavy kettlebell. In the next scene we see, he has donned a suit and tie, and arrives at his daughter’s house for Christmas. With a special present in hand, he spies his young granddaughter coming down the stairs. He helps her to open the box, and inside is a large golden star for the top of the Christmas tree. Then this man who was weak but who has worked to make himself strong, lifts his granddaughter just as he lifted his kettlebell all those months, and holds her up while she places the star on her family’s tree. The last frame we see is the photo he’s been looking at all these months, a picture of his granddaughter.
It’s amazing what any of us can accomplish when we have the right motivation. I remember hearing my mother say that if you don’t use the gifts that God has given, you’ll lose them. My recollection is that this was a ploy to get me to practice my piano or sing in church, something she thought I should be doing. But the saying is often true; “You use it, or you lose it.” There’s a quote I keep in a note on my phone that says, “What idea has left you because you failed to act on it?” What idea may have left you because you failed to act on it?
As I’m writing this, we are three weeks away from the Christmas holiday, and not too much further away from the day that many of us will make New Year’s resolutions. Even if you don’t make formal resolutions, it’s likely that you’ll give some thought to how you want to live in this coming year. Is there a gift or ability that is gathering dust in the “outbuilding” of your life? Maybe it’s something you have done or used in the past, but now you are out of shape or out of practice. Maybe it’s a talent or ability you have never used; one of those good ideas that may eventually leave you if you don’t act on it. It can be tough to resurrect an old ability or to put a gift or talent to use for the first time. But even tougher is the regret you will feel if you never act on a prompting of the Spirit to make use of the potential that God has given to you.
The writer of Ephesians was speaking to the Christian community when he wrote that “we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” But these words are just as true of you and me as individuals as they are of the community. What gift or ability or potential from the Lord are you being called to make use of, right now?
With prayers for your journey,