Cardboard box to be exact!

I am convinced that everyone reading this has experienced on some level the joy of watching a child or grandchild open a present only to become fascinated and engaged with the box said gift came in rather than the actual gift itself… oh what fun!

Especially if you were the one who paid for the playschool castle and the colorful carton was the new prized possession of the little rascal. In this particular case there was no pre wrapped gift nor was there a holiday involved. However, when Papaw is babysitting imaginations tend to run wild!

The box was a really big one and it was just sitting there unattended in the garage screaming for attention. And attention it got! As my granddaughter Kairi and I gazed upon this box it seemed to say to us… make me into a playhouse, make me into a playhouse. Or at least that’s what we heard!

So armed with a utility knife, “me not Kairi” and a large marks-a-lot, “uh, this time me and Kairi,” we began the transformation process. It was quick, painless and if I say so myself, not bad for our first attempt at playhouse making. A nice door here, a couple of windows there, a few ink drawn shutters and viola… a playhouse like no other. I really mean it, there’s not another one like it anywhere!

Here’s where it gets a little dicey because I’m not really sure that I have gotten the more joy out of watching the kids play with this LARGE box, did I mention it was rather LARGE? Or have I somehow derived more satisfaction out of the LARGE box sitting squarely in my daughter and son in laws living room!

You should have seen their faces when the returned from their trip… priceless! Well the grandkids have had a blast, Papaw has had his fun and I am sure that I will return home one day to have said box greeting me in my own house… I know my kids! All this joy, all this excitement and all this conversation about a box! Well, its actually not so much the box, it’s what was done with what we had that made the difference. So it is with each of us!

What do you have? Or more importantly, what are you doing with what you have?

I’m not just talking about monetary resources but our time and our ability as well. The God of heaven has entrusted us with much, it is however up to us what we do with what we have.

Missionary Del Tarr shared about the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil of the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide under the Sahara Desert where the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness as the winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it into the air. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it.

The year’s food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields. In October and November the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground to make flour and then a mush. The sticky mush is eaten hot. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.

December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day. By February, the evening meal diminishes.

The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. April is haunting, in it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.

Then, it happens.

A young boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement.

“Daddy! Daddy! We’ve got grain!” he shouts.

“Son, you know we haven’t had grain for weeks.”

“Yes, we have!” the boy insists. “Out in the goats hut there’s a leather sack hanging up on the wall, Daddy, there’s grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep! “

The father stands motionless.

“Son, we can’t do that,” “That’s next year’s seed grain. It’s the only thing between starvation and us. We’re waiting for the rains, and then we must use it.”

The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it in the dirt!

He of all men knows the importance of doing the right thing with what you have. What we do with what we have makes a difference… joy or sorrow, health or sickness, life or death.


Throckmorton is the pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville.

Rev. Tim Throckmorton Tim Throckmorton