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.
“Hey Harper, what’s your shirt say?” 14 years old, Mason, asked me in the kitchen today. He had on a hoodie, ripped baggy jeans, and plenty of attitude about how his mom had “made” him come help in the kitchen tonight.
I knew the boy could read, but I read it out loud anyway, “Says: ‘He restored me’.” I remember when I ordered it online a couple of months ago, the artwork was cool; a painted pair of ragged hands reaching up-rugged rough hands, working life hands. And there was one bright spotless hand reaching down; the forgiving hand.
“So…is it like a God shirt?” he said with a smirk.
My gloved hands were covered in meatball mess, while Mason’s were clean and clearly holding tight to the cell phone in his sweatshirt pocket. My 4-year-old son Charles has a security blanket; apparently there’s such thing as a security-cell. “No, not a ‘God Shirt.’” I stopped and thought about what kind of a statement I was making by wearing my favorite black tee. How could I explain?
Do I tell him? Would this kid actually listen as I told him of my life as an only child; one who fought for attention from my folks? Should I tell him of the long list of trouble I got into when I was his age, with individuals camouflaged as friends?
Do I tell of the ways I failed? How when my need for attention was not met by my wife Ramona, I found attention from someone else? Do I reveal the agonized sound of my best friend’s heartbreak and how it wrecked and ripped at every fiber of my being?
Do I tell him of how I almost lost my life? Would he listen to me yammering on about how I saw my moral failure as something I wasn’t in control of; that it was everyone’s fault, not my own?
Do I tell him how I let my family, my treasure, fall away from me? When I told of my heart being packed up, along with my wife and son, as my body watched it all drive away to live without me across the country; would he comprehend? Would he get it?
Maybe I could tell him about when I got broke. About the time I found myself in men’s group at our church; the church where my wife and I met, the church where we looked like Christians, had the membership card, wore the t-shirt, but forgot to let Jesus (or anybody else for that matter) into our problems.
Then I could tell him about the time I confessed to everyone I hurt; especially to Jesus, who I claimed to follow.
Suppose he might understand why I left my job, left my home, why I gave up that sinful man, to reclaim what God had freely offered me once more…hope.
I wonder if this youth just sees a man rolling meatballs and labels it inconvenience, or chore, or boring. I wonder if he could recognize my pure joy knowing my son and wife and I are in the same house again. No, it isn’t where we sleep, it’s our church home; it’s where we are awake. Providing a meal for family, sisters and brothers in Christ, is something that is done effortlessly. If he understood, maybe, just maybe, he’d take his hands out of his pocket to open the cans of spaghetti sauce.
“It is not a God Shirt, Mason. It is a statement of who I owe my life to.” I rolled another meatball. “I wrote a life story I was not proud of. God and I are writing a new one.” I held up the meat covered gloves, “These hands were so dirty. But when I reached,” I took off one of the gloves to reveal my clean left hand, “He cleaned me up, because he loves. He absolutely loves…me.”
He brought me out into a spacious place; he restored me because he delighted in me.
Written by Jennifer Love
Written by Jennifer Love