This week I was pulling my son in a wagon. This isn’t the kind of wagon with the little plastic black wheels. This thing has huge mud tires and wooden rails coming up on all four sides. I still don’t know why a wagon needs mud tires and wooden rails but it looks cool and this particular wagon happened to be free. I think one of the early church fathers said something about not turning down a free wagon with mud tires on it. Was it Augustine? I’ll check.
As I was pulling my son in his wagon, one of the wooden rails fell off. When one of my kid’s toys breaks like this, some variation of the following conversation usually happens.
“Dad, can you fix it?”
“Son, maybe it’s not God’s will for you to have a nice wagon with wooden rails and mud tires.”
But not this time. This time, there was just one bolt that came loose. The nut that was holding it in place was nowhere to be found but at least I had the bolt. You can always find an extra nut somewhere. Don’t they put a few extra under your car for occasions just like this?
I quickly went inside and grabbed my two tool boxes. Yes, I have two tool boxes. One tool box is made out of plastic and was given to me as a gag gift at our wedding shower. All the ladies laughed at me when I couldn’t figure out how to open it up. It still looks like it did when it came out of the box.
The other tool box is made out of metal and weighs just a little less than a Toyota Corolla. It’s all beat up and it smells funny. This tool box once belonged to my grandfather, Leman Sanders. This was likely the tool box he used when he built his own house and it’s certainly the one he used to maintain that house. It’s still filled with spare parts and old tools.
I went searching through my plastic, new looking tool box first. There was no nut to be found. There was an extension cord and a rope, just in case I ever need that. When I opened up my metal tool box, I had to pull out a wide variety of strange tools.
“Dad, what’s that thing do?”
“Son, go read your Bible. Run along now. Off you go.”
Sure enough, there was a nut that was the perfect match for our loose bolt. There was also a complete set of sockets that I used to do the very difficult task of tightening a nut and bolt on my kid’s wagon. Remember this men, even if a job involving tools is mind-numbingly easy, make it look hard. You do this by constantly wiping your forehead with your arm and saying, “Shew, it’s hot.” This gives you instant street cred with any toddlers that happen to be looking on.
Now the wagon is fixed and both tool boxes are put away until sometime next year when something breaks that I actually know how to fix.
There are a lot of people my age that presume to have faith in Christ but it’s really nothing more than an old faith that belonged to their grandparents that they only pull out a few times every year when a crisis happens. Or on Easter. The complete message of scripture is that these people have as much business calling themselves Christ-followers (James 2:14-26) as I do calling myself a handyman.
For many, being a Christian means going to church as a kid, getting entertained at church as a teenager, bailing out on the church as a young adult and, if circumstances permit, coming back to church once you have a few kids of your own. We wouldn’t want our little one’s growing up any different than we did, right?
Not only is this unbiblical, it has also proven to be a colossal failure. The call to follow Christ is more than a call to talk a good game and suddenly turn into a prayer warrior when you get laid off or you get sick. A faith that is put back up on the shelf until next year’s tragedy or holiday is really no faith at all.
This is an important message for parents. We talk about raising good kids and saving for college and carrying the kids to football practice so maybe we wont have to pay for college as if that is our objective. But what’s the good in raising a kid that grows up to earn a scholarship if he goes to hell when he dies?
Our real goal as parents is what Voddie Baucham calls, “multi-generational faithfulness.” The Bible speaks of this in passages like Deuteronomy 6 where parents are told to follow God’s commands, “that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son” (Deuteronomy 6:2) and in Ephesians 6 where fathers are told to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
The old tools in my closet that once built things are now collecting cobwebs and only pulled out when something easy breaks. I almost feel like I’m wasting that tool box and that maybe it would be better in the hands of someone who will put it to use daily.
But I’ll keep it forever and say that it’s my tool box even though it will never really be mine.
It will always belong to Leman Sanders.