’m about as mechanically gifted as a puffin. I don’t get many calls from close friends asking me to help them build or fix something. They’ll call me to help them move
something—but not to build or fix something. When my lawn mower breaks and I’m lying there on my side staring at the belts and gears, my little girl, who is
mechanically gifted, will come lie down beside me and say, “Why don’t you just turn this, Daddy?”
So it was all the more comical when, a few summers ago, I found myself standing in the contractor tent at the local Home Depot. I hadn’t planned to visit the contractor tent; I had simply gone to Home Depot to buy some 4" x 4" posts that my friend told me to buy so that my friend could build a shelter for the pygmy goats I had gotten several weeks earlier to get the kids away from the TV.
I found the posts successfully and checked out at the contractor exit. The cashier smiled. “Did you get your key for the Big Toolbox yet?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“They’re running a corporate promotion outside in the contractor tent,” she said. “If your key opens the Big Toolbox, you win a $500 gift certificate.”
“Oh,” I said, as she handed me a key. She must have thought I was a contractor.
I wheeled my cart outside and suddenly found myself in a line of burly contractors waiting to try to open the Big Toolbox. One by one they inserted their key into the padlock, turned the key unsuccessfully, and either sighed or swore.
The contest had been going all day, which meant that hundreds of people had tried and failed to open the Big Toolbox. My expectations couldn’t have been lower as I reached the front of the line and inserted my key.
Click. To my astonishment, the padlock popped open. “Oh, crud,” the guy behind me said. (He used another word.)
Suddenly a tall man from Home Depot Corporate rushed over with a microphone. “You opened it?” he said excitedly.
I shrugged my shoulders, almost apologetically.
“OK!” he said into the microphone. “Folks, let me have your attention. We’ve got our big winner. What’s your name, sir?”
“Andy Nash,” I said into the microphone.
“Great,” he said, “and what’s your company name?”
I paused. “The Front Porch,” I said. (I was running a publishing company with that name.)
“The Front Porch!” he said. “You must build front porches!”
The crowd cheered. Then the Home Depot big shots hustled me outside to have my picture taken with two beautiful Home Depot models in front of the official Home Depot race car. (I was the only thing in the photo that wasn’t orange.) The picture would become part of Home Depot publicity materials, making me, in a sense, the face of Home Depot.
After being presented with a $500 gift card, I quietly pushed my cart across the parking lot to my minivan. As I drove away, I had a feeling I’d never felt before. For once in my life, I knew what it was like to be mechanically gifted. After all, I’d opened the toolbox when no one else could!
We can probably all think of times we wish we could suddenly be equipped with an ability that we don’t have. How often do we long to be like someone else—to be someone we’re not? The irony is: those gifted people we admire so much—they undoubtedly admire someone else too.
There are times God dramatically gives us new gifts and abilities. But for the most part He simply calls us to be the people He created us to be: bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our own unique way. Choosing to be satisfied with the way God has made us is a lot like inserting a key into a Big Toolbox. Something just clicks.
Andy Nash is a journalism professor and lay pastor. He assisted his student, Rainey Park, with a new book: Love, Kirsten: The True Story of the Student Missionary Who Gave Her All. This article was published May 19, 2011.