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Some Assembly Required … Do Not Discard 

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some. (Hebrews 10:25)

Some assembly required … What is it like for you when you encounter that honey-do, where you can engage in an activity that unites your inner engineer with a designer, to create something lovely.  It is such a fulfilling and frustrating task all in the same experience.  As I open the box and survey my kingdom of parts and pieces, I begin to take stock and evaluate every piece into how it will fit into the final edifice.  When I was younger, the instructions were often deemed of low value and tossed aside.  It is interesting how the process of putting something together only to find out that you missed a critical step will increase your estimation of the importance of the instructions.  I have afforded myself far too many opportunities to undo what I had done so that I could go back and repeat the designer’s intention.  I try to be more thoughtful, now, in reflecting on what the designer had in mind.  I am not always successful.

One of the quick evaluations in a project I recently undertook was to determine what would eventually go to landfill and what was pertinent to the task at hand.  I came across a piece of cardboard.  The designer took additional effort to label this piece.  It clearly said DO NOT DISCARD.  While reading the warning, my reasoning about this “cryptic” message was that it was intended for those that had packed the material so meticulously.  It certainly had no meaning for what I was doing then and there.  So, making a judgement on the perceived value of this piece, I relegated it to the refuse pile and began my assignment.  This project was a honey-do, so it would be important that I was efficient, neat, and successful in making the end product look like the picture on the box.  

An hour or so later I was down to the final steps.  Having followed the instructions closely, this was the critical stage of the project.  I had performed with the hand of a fine craftsman.  Almost every piece was in place as the designer had intended.  My successful engagement of these final few steps would be the achievement that would make my honey smile, or (if I get it wrong) frown.  This was very important to me.  As it so happened, that DO NOT DISCARD piece of cardboard was the piece I needed to achieve my goal.

I took the walk of shame to the dumpster where I had so meticulously kept my work area clear of debris and began to search for my last critical piece.  The once worthless (in my perception) piece of cardboard became the lynchpin to establish the fulfillment for which I longed.  All of the sudden, a piece of cardboard became worth so much more value than my personal dignity.  So, I jumped in.

It seems to me that in our world of fast paced, fill every second of time with activity lives, that the gathering of the church is treated more and more like my piece of cardboard.  Even though the Hebrew writer admonishes his audience to “NOT FORSAKE” the assembly, time and again I find myself at odds with the busy life I have created, struggling against the words reflecting God’s earnest desire.  

In the Old Testament book, Song of Songs, the author gives us a larger-than-life depiction of God-created love between man and woman.  My breath is stolen as the poem describes their untimely separation, and finally I gasp, as if holding my breath, as they are reunited again.  The intentionality of Paul as he describes the Church as the bride of Christ, going further to say it is his very body, is another of those breath catching moments for me.  It seems that Paul would have had in his mind the desperate, can’t live without you love, described in Song of Songs.  If that does not impress upon you how God feels about the church, I am not entirely certain what would.

The reality is, like in all human relationships, being with people can be difficult.  We say things we should not.  We fail each other and sometimes in extreme cases we betray each other.  Yet, Christ died for the church, because when we get it right there is nothing on this Earth that can touch the divine that is created when God’s images act toward each other as he has always desired … as He acted, toward us.  Life is messy, and in my endeavor to keep my workspace meticulously clean I can often discard something that is of value beyond my original narrow-minded assumptions.

The Creator of the universe attached himself to the creation by being born into it.  He lived His life as the created.  He gave His life for the church.  With language describing the deepest and most intimate relationships, His most prolific prophets and apostles wrote, in raw and unveiled admonitions, about the importance of the gift we have been given.  He meticulously crafted an environment by which his images could share, laugh, sing, love, cry, pray, forgive, and remember.  He left so many instructions that were intended for the “task at hand”.  He provides us so many opportunities to repair our mistakes and to go back and do it again, as He designed.  So much more than a simple project, proper, God inspired relationships are the most fulfilling and frustrating engagements we have in this life.  I am humbled as I review my own life and see the areas where I have ejected from my presence the very thing that would bring the fulfillment I so desperately crave.  It is like a child holding his breath.  Eventually you will gasp for air.

So, what will you do with that piece of cardboard.  DO NOT NEGLECT seems very close to DO NOT DISCARD.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.   (Hebrews 10:24-25)


-  Steve Turquette