Beware the Commission

“I’ve seen your work,” she said.


“I have an opportunity for you. I need a box, about ten by twelve, and maybe four or five inches high. It can be of blonde colored wood. Oh, and the top needs to come completely off, no hinges. It will be used in the Godly Play classes.”

I thanked her and said that I would work on something. Considering what the box was going to be used for, I decided right away that I would build it free of charge. I did not convey this at the time, it was going to be a surprise!

After a day or two of working out the design in my head, I ventured off to purchase the lumber needed. Considering the request for blonde colored wood, I initially thought of pine. However, while looking through the stock, I decided on a particularly delightful piece of poplar.

I like to start carving before doing any joinery on my boxes, but I found myself just staring at the roughed out pieces of poplar. What pattern should I cut into this wood? Considering the purpose of the box, I decided on the running vine. The vine reminded me of the allegory of the vine and the branches found in John’s Gospel. Excitedly, I began to carve.

Being purpose led, it seemed as if I had finished the carving in a matter of hours. I then cut rebates and assembled the box. After a slathering of boiled linseed oil and turpentine, I let it sit in the sun to dry for the majority of the day on Saturday.


Surprisingly, the smell of linseed oil was virtually gone by sundown. I was pleased that I was going to be able to deliver my “gift” the next day at church. I had met the requirements with the size, blonde wood, removable top, and even added a bit of meaningful theology.


Needless to say, entering the church Sunday morning with my “gift” I was pumped! Being one of the sacristans for the service, I placed the box on a table in the narthex and busied myself with my duties.

The Gospel appointed for this particular Sunday was from John, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you …” Somehow I felt this was speaking to me about my box. Although after the service, I was made to feel differently.

“Hi. Did you see your box on the table?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said, with a long pause. “That won’t work. That’s not what I had in mind.”

She then simply walked away.

Dear Lord, thank You for placing people in our lives to challenge and encourage us. Help us to do the same for others.