Last night I was cleaning out the garage. I vowed to clean out a messy drawer in the workbench that has stood in our garage since we bought our home 25 years ago. The workbench was left by a previous owner, and with its strong metal frame, broad wood surface, handy pull drawer, and red vice, it has figured in every home improvement project we’ve ever done.
It was a place for our son to tinker with tools when he was young. It was also where he and my husband built his pink “Barbie” car as a kind of joke, but it ended up winning his division in the Cub Scout Derby. My husband keeps his tool chest on the workbench, along with all manner of yard tools. Underneath, we’ve stowed propane gas tanks, bike helmets, bird houses, and tomato trellises. Over the years, it’s stood watch over all our comings and goings—from the time our children were born to now, when they’ve both left home.
I emptied the pull drawer of its gloves and twine and sprinkler system parts. It was filled with 25 years’ worth of dirt, so I swept it out as best I could and then I had the idea to turn it upside down over the garbage. That’s when I saw someone had signed it, in pencil and lovely cursive writing:
I stopped to marvel at this discovery. JE Bautsch had built this workbench and signed his name to it almost sixty years ago—before I was born and before our home was even built. Someone—a relative, a friend, an estate sale find?—had brought it to our home, and it had stayed all these years, a silent, helpful fixture in our lives.
It made me think of Sunday’s Bible reading when Jesus tells his disciples that faith is like a tiny seed. During the online service, there was a beautiful video about this passage. I wrote down some of the words:
Your body may age
But your faith is everlasting
Creating new seeds which will
Impact generations to come.
I thought of JE Bautsch building his workbench those many years ago. Why sign his name? It is a custom among carpenters and woodworkers, but it was also an act of faith. A belief that his (her?) workbench might be useful and helpful, not just to its first recipient, but perhaps to generations of people. And it has!
We may not be around to see the lasting effect of our own faith. But we can trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, is at work, stirring the hearts of others who are touched by it. Our job is to be faithful, using the unique gifts we’re given, and know that God will take care of the rest. Maybe by blessing a family with one’s craftsmanship. Maybe by giving encouragement through one’s words. Jesus’ parable is a reminder our faith, a tiny seed, doesn’t have to be huge to make a dramatic difference. God will do the work of transforming it into something lasting.