Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When God Lets Your Blocks Fall

Hi Friends,

I was thinking about how I handle life when things go wrong, and I remembered this story. I found it helpful. Maybe you will too!

Tommy sat at my feet in the church nursery with blue, red, and green blocks scattered all around him. He pushed at the blocks with one finger, then scratched his head.

"Why don't you make a house with those?" I asked him.

He looked dubiously at the square and rectangular bits of wood and finally nodded. One after the next, he placed the blocks on top of one another, his chubby hands eager to build the structure that I suggested. Red on top of blue, on top of green, each block was carefully positioned on the one below. He grinned up at me. “I’m making a mansion!”

“I see that.” I smiled.

But, as the house grew taller, I could also see that it would soon fall. Some blocks sat precariously on the ones underneath them. They couldn’t hold much more weight. I held my breath, knowing what was to come. Yet, I didn't reach down to fix Tommy's building. Instead, I waited.

A moment later, the structure teetered, then righted itself. But not for long. As Tommy placed a blue triangle on the green square beneath, the whole house came tumbling down around his feet. Crash! Tommy pushed his hands over the fallen blocks and promptly began to cry.

As I watched him, I realized that sometimes I'm not so different from a three-year-old. When things go wrong in my life, when God chooses not to save my house of blocks, I can get mad too. When God asks me to do something and it doesn’t turn out the way I expect, I can feel betrayed, angry, and even a little resentful. "God, how could you let me down?" I may say. In other words, I, too, might stick out my lower lip and cry, "Waa!” (in a more sophisticated manner, of course).

Yet, how were my actions with Tommy any different than God’s with me? I hadn’t chosen to save Tommy’s structure. Sure, I could have knelt down and shored up the building so it wouldn’t fall. But, how would Tommy learn and grow if I always rushed in to right the wrongs, always fixed the houses, never allowed him to fail? Even though I was the one who suggested that he construct the house, the building wasn’t as important to me as his growth. Could it be that God feels the same about me? Could my success be less important than my spiritual growth?

When Tommy’s blocks fell, he cried for only a minute, then he stopped and wiped a dirty sleeve across his nose. Without further thought, he picked up a green block, looked at it, then began to run it over the carpet. His actions were accompanied by the familiar "brrrmm, brrrmm" sound that indicated his favorite race car. Tommy, in his own childish way, showed me how to move beyond life’s fallen blocks.

By watching Tommy, I realized that when things go wrong, I have a choice. I can either get mad at God, or I can simply accept the fact that He didn’t intervene, although He could have. As Tommy discovered, obedience doesn’t always guarantee success, at least in the way that I often define it.

So, when faced with my shattered expectations, I can either spend my time pointing the finger of blame at God or I can learn to say, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). From Tommy, I’ve learned that I need to be faithful, to trust God to run my life as He sees fit, even when I don’t like it very much. And that’s not easy.

But God has a right to do whatever He wants with my life, whether that means letting my blocks fall or not. And when they do, may I learn to make green race cars out of the remnants.