By Steven Norris
Some years ago, I was introduced to the exquisite craftsmanship of woodworker Nathie Katzoff by a video I found on Youtube. Nathie is nothing short of an awe-inspiring artist. The company he started primarily designs custom staircases, but they have expanded into other areas as well.
I was struck, however, by one of the comments in this video. Katzoff said, “You don’t have the opportunity to create something wonderful if it’s for just the temporary moment.” From that perspective, a project he expects to last for 200 years versus one that may last five or ten would require a significantly different approach.
When you know that you are designing and crafting something that is going to be an heirloom, something that is going to be passed down from generation to generation, you approach crafting it differently. You don’t cut corners or skimp on materials. Instead, you take your time and give it your very best effort.
It got me to thinking, though, about the nature of conversion. So many times, we speak of conversion as though it were a one-time thing. I might say, “I got saved (converted) at age twelve. What about you?” The problem with this language is that is does not correspond to the experience people like myself have had in regards to faith. Sure, there was a clear repentance that happened for me at twelve, but it started much earlier and it didn’t end when I prayed a prayer at a concert.
My conversion process started with those sweet ladies in the church nursery that loved me and taught me about Jesus through flannel board images. It continued with Vacation Bible School and other church activities. It was spurred on by youth retreats, camps, and mission trips. In college, it took the form of a friend who mentored me and small group experiences at the Baptist Student Union. It has continued on into adulthood, in becoming a husband and a father, and in my calling as a minister.
Conversion is a life-long process. Every single day of our lives shapes us and forms us for eternity. The more we become like Christ, the more we will be prepared to live with him in eternity.
So, if you approach a project differently when you know that it is going to last for 200 years as opposed to 10, how much more seriously should you approach something that is being fashioned for eternity? This is serious work! Everything that we are doing in our day-to-day lives — going to work, doing chores, shopping, raising a family, caring for neighbors — is making us more or less like Christ.
If there is anything that I might learn from Katzoff, it is this: (1) God is in the business of making masterpieces; (2) people are not disposable; and (3) God is fashioning us for eternity. Therefore, we must remember that we cannot rush holiness and Christlikeness. The work is slow and tedious after all, but God isn’t in the business of making cheap junk.