This short story was inspired by some recent conversations and written for a friend, however I do know quite a number of people who have also dealt with this issue, including myself. As you may already be aware via one of my latest blog posts, this is a subject I am most passionate about. Many of the Christians I know today struggle in one or more areas of insecurity, and my heart sincerely goes out to them with overwhelming compassion. To be completely honest with you, no one has any idea how much it pains me to learn that my fellow siblings in Christ feel insecure about the way they were made. I so wish I could wrap each and everyone these people in a big hug and tell them that they're awesome. If you are reading this, please let me assure you, right now, from the bottom of my soul - you are amazing. You are wonderful, cherished, treasured, and loved, just the way God made you, flaws and all. The Lord is doing a new thing in you; He is making you the best "you" you can be, and He values you more than life! I pray this story blesses you.
Its shining array of buttons and dials made my fingers twitch with anticipation and temptation. What did all of them do? What function did they perform, and for what purpose did they exist? I would soon find out.
For many years, this expansive board of switches had been kept under my master’s most vigilant guard and – for a time – I had had no questions or doubts in my mind concerning it. The master always kept everything in perfect running order, and every one of the dials, switches and buttons were in their correct place. However as the years went by, I grew restless in my lot as his assistant. Helping was one thing, but knowing how the machines worked was another.
To be sure, I could keep their hydraulics oiled, and their outsides rust free. I could mend broken bolts and rewire minor circuitry. But I knew nothing about how these monstrosities were made, how they were run, and what their purposes were. I wanted to know, so I asked.
“I’m the only one who can know,” the master told me. “If I’m in control, you’ve no need to worry.”
But that was not enough for me. I wanted to be in control, I wanted to understand the way my master did.
So one day, whilst the master was attending to business elsewhere in the factory, I slipped my stolen key into the lock and opened the switchboard door. Peeking through the opening, I peered into the room. There was the switchboard – a glittering bank of controls humming quietly, all alone. Tingling with excitement, I approached the glowing panel of tiny lights, trying to decide just how I would run the machines all by myself.
Sitting down at the bench, I pulled the chair up close to examine the labels beneath all of the dials. I frowned at them. Some were listed under “personality”, others under “character” and still more beneath “Likes & Dislikes”. These bizarre labels confused me, and I puzzled over what they could mean. What kind of things such as these did mere machines need in order to be run? What exactly were these machines I helped to maintain?
For a brief moment I hesitated. Maybe the master really did know how best to run everything correctly… But curiosity overpowered my conscience, for I had come too far now to leave without discovering what some of these switches would do. Picking “humour” under “Personality”, I flipped the switch off, and watched the light die behind it. That seemed like a safe choice. I also switched off “shyness” and “generous”. I glanced down a list of knobs to my left, and noticed some dials set to varying degrees of high and low. Picking “confidence”, I twisted the knob all the way up to the highest setting with a sense of satisfaction. Confidence never went astray, did it? I became bolder, and flipped more switches, watching the lights die behind “humility” and “joy”. What did a machine need with those, anyway?
As I single-mindedly worked away at my task, I failed to notice a small screen light up on the opposite wall of the room. A wavering line tracked a slow course across the face of the glowing panel, and – with every switch I flipped – the line became more and more jagged; its erratic path taking on a hint of desperation as it did. I was unaware of it though, and I continued to recklessly alter apparently insignificant buttons and dials that I was certain the machines could not possibly need.
It was then a shrieking alarm suddenly blared from behind me, and I jumped out of my chair to turn and see a flashing light above the panel in the opposite wall. The raucous alarm continued to blare and I knew that I should make my escape before I was discovered, but my eyes caught something familiar on the screen, and I stepped towards it to examine it more closely. As the red bulb pulsed its dull light across my face, I squinted at the writing displayed. With a jolt of shock, I realized that the recognizable words on the screen were my own name. It was flashing urgently, and the crooked line weaved all over the screen like a deranged heartbeat monitor. What had I done?
Suddenly a heavy hand fell upon my shoulder, and I cringed beneath it, knowing instantly who it was. I turned, and the master looked down at me sadly before moving to the switchboard. With the greatest of care, he readjusted all of the switches I had moved until the alarm finally died, filling the room with a dreadful silence I couldn’t bear.
“Why was it flashing my name?” I whispered meekly.
He looked at me quietly for a moment. “Because you changed yourself.”
I stared. “What – myself? I thought I was controlling the machines–”
“The machines are merely metaphors – representations – of the different parts of who you are.” He walked to a window next to the switchboard and lifted the shade. I drew near and peered out. I gasped at the sight of a large metal monstrosity that was seething voluminous amounts of steam and smoke. Beyond it, I could see several smaller machines that were leaking oil, had radiators overheating, or had otherwise crashed into each other causing all manner of wreckage to their exteriors.
“They are… me?” I squeaked. “Why didn’t I feel it?”
“You would have, in time. You see,” the master explained, “each facet and intricate piece of you I designed a specific way for a specific purpose. The same way every part of these machines need to be designed exactly so to make them run smoothly, so you also need everything I have given you to live this life effectively.” He smiled a little. “Remember when you chose me? I allowed you to work with me in honing those very parts of you to their fullest potential. But you wanted control I couldn’t give you.”
I hung my head, and let my gaze fall to my feet. “Why not?” My voice came out in a defeated, yet still accusing whisper.
“If I asked you to get into a vehicle you didn’t know how to drive and asked you to go to a place you’d never heard of, would you get there?”
Understanding began to dawn on me. “No,” I replied quietly.
The master ran his hand gently over the knobs and switches on the bank of dials. “I know how to drive,” He said softly, “and I know where your life is going. But if I told you how to do it yourself, the magnitude of the task would surely daunt you, and you would be unable to stay the course on your own.”
He continued. “Your place on this earth, your purpose, the way you were made; I designed uniquely for you. Changing yourself, and straying from who I created you to be only impedes your performance.” He pointed at the now quietly glowing line upon the screen that had been flashing my name moments before. “You cannot be who I created you to be if you turn your switches off. You cannot fulfil the destiny I have planned for you without everything I have put in you, the way I set them to be. The alarm sounded because your life had gotten off course.”
I watched the slow line, and silently thought over what the master had told me, deeply wondering in my heart about myself, and who I was inside. There were many things I so wished I could change in me… I hated that I was often shy, or that my joyful spirit often came across as silly or childish. I didn’t like my lack of confidence that always left me feeling insecure and doubtful about myself, and I loathed my self-centeredness that so frequently chose to overlook the needs of others. I longed to be more outgoing, or the kind of person who found it easy to be sensible and mature.
“Why… couldn’t I be more like I want to be?” I whispered, a single tear rolling down my face.
He smiled. “Because then you wouldn’t be you. I don’t need another someone else.”
I couldn’t help but smile a little. He was always telling me I was special because I was the only one of me.
“Do I have a purpose, just the way I am?” I asked, still seeking reassurance about myself.
The master’s eyes sparkled. “A most glorious one, haven’t I always said so?”
He had. I marvelled how I could have doubted the maker who had made me the way I was. Did not the maker know his creation better than anyone else – better than the creation itself?
I still puzzled over the things in myself that I felt weren’t right; my character traits and sinful habits that I knew were far from perfect... Were they a part of me too?
“Can I be a better ‘me’, and still be who I was created to be?” I so wanted to be more than I was. Not different… but the best me I could be.
His soft chuckle made me look up. “Only if you’re willing to let me drive, and let me help you become all you are destined to be.” He lifted his hand and held out an oil can with a loving smile. “And – if you’re willing to assist me.”
Joy filled my heart as I looked into his eyes – the eyes of my master. Who better to trust with who I was, and where my life was going? Had he not proven himself over and over again? Profound gratitude flooded my soul, and I felt something release inside me; relief washing over me as I reached out and took the can with shining eyes. “I am willing.”
We both left the switchboard room together, and I didn’t look back as the master closed and locked the door behind him.
There are some parts of our lives that need the rust scraped off them; some parts that need oiling, other parts that need replacing. There are those intricate pieces that need polishing so that they will function at peak performance, and there are other parts of our lives that are have been shattered and deeply buried; brokenness that affects our entire lives and must be rooted out and mended before our lives can run on track again.
There are some rooms in our lives that need de-cluttering: rooms that need scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, or rooms that simply need to be lived in. There are rooms that need the shades to be lifted so that the Light can shine in; rooms that need to be prepared and ready for the future. But some rooms – like the switchboard room – should never be entered by anyone but the Master. He alone knows the right settings that will achieve our purpose in life, and only He knows the way home.
And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through, separating you from profane things, making you pure and wholly consecrated to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete, being found blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He Who is calling you to Himself, and utterly trustworthy, and He will also fulfil His call by hallowing and keeping you.
1 Thess. 5:23-24
You are precious and honoured in My sight... I love you.