Years ago, my wife's grandfather "Papa" gave me a great gift. He and his wife were moving out of their tiny house in Oklahoma to a new place where they could retire so he was giving things he valued to his children and grandchildren. I got a beat-up, old wooden workbench that some may call “vintage” today. It was covered with history—nicks, dings, and imperfections reflecting its 50 years as a work surface for mechanics at a Ford dealership where Papa was an accountant. I like to imagine that many heavy tools were dropped carelessly on its resolute surface, yet it withstood the abuse.

When the dealership was remodeled, Papa took the workbench home and used it for his own woodworking projects. But eventually, he used it less and less, and after 15 years, he needed to find it a new home.

Papa gave me the workbench because he and I shared the love of woodworking. Before I became a graphic designer, I was a carpenter. I did it professionally and as a hobby. To me, this old, beat-up work surface was priceless. In fact, I knew it was made of rock maple—some of the hardest wood you can get—traditionally used to make the very best butcher blocks. Its pieces are held together by three long, threaded steel rods, so when the glue wears out over time, it stands strong.

The person who made this workbench really knew what he was doing.

I could’ve spent an hour sanding down the surface and making it look pristine—like a brand-new table—but I didn’t. Instead I realized all the dings and blemishes are what made it beautiful. They tell a story not only about where the bench has been but also what it’s made of—its character. I can’t help but see the parallel with our own lives. The One who made us really knew what He was doing. He made us with the best materials and the finest craftsmanship. However, life has a way of knocking the corners off of you. We undergo difficult situations and circumstances that leave imperfections and wounds. But God made us with a purpose, and He is still there ready to use us despite our scars. In fact, He sent His son to die for us because of the sin in our lives. That’s how valuable we are to Him.

Eventually, I fitted the workbench onto another old desk and brought it to my Gateway office. I use it every day, and as I glance over the rough, worn edges of this 75-year-old surface, I’m reminded that despite my own imperfections, our Creator still sees the value in me and chooses to use me every day.

 

The Intersection focuses on the link between faith and pop culture and is featured monthly in Gateway Life magazine.