When Rod and I were newlyweds, living on my minimum wage convenience store clerk job while Rod finished his last semester of college, we bought a used 19” black and white TV for $40. This was our dinner-in-trays-while-watching-Star-Trek in the winter of 1974. TVs in those days used fuses made of glass. One morning, on my day off, I turned on TV to catch the news, and as soon as the picture came up, it stopped working. I knew enough about TV’s to know that they had fuses, and that fuses could blow, having observed my dad fix our TV’s growing up.
Our apartment was next to an appliance store, so I figured that I could remove the fuses, get them tested, purchase a replacement fuse, and have the TV in working order before Rod got home. He’d be so impressed! So I unplugged the TV, removed the back and realized that there were a lot of fuses with a variety of sizes and diameters. I didn’t want to get mixed up, so I grabbed a piece of paper, and drew a model of what the “guts” looked like, carefully tracing each fuse’s circumference so I’d know where to put them when I returned with the new fuse.
I put the fuses in a paper bag, walked next door, and asked the clerk to test them. One, indeed, was blown. I bought a replacement for about $2.00, returned to our apartment and set about replacing the fuses according to the diagram. Once they were all installed, screwed the back in place, plugged it in, and turned it on to enjoy the fruit of my labors. Have you ever smelled something electric burning? I did, heard a crackling sound, and saw smoke, all as I rushed to pull the plug. After it cooled down, I removed the back, and beheld the melted ruins of what had been our TV. Apparently, I hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that some fuses with the same circumference had different heights, and that tiny little discrepancy mattered. Burning dinner would have been much easier to confess and much less costly to replace. My husband was extremely kind, all things considered.
I learned more than one lesson from the mistake! But one that stays with me is the importance of finding our right fit – our calling – as members of Christ’s body. The apostle Paul likened the church to a body, and said this, “The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.” (1 Corinthians 12 – The Message)
Perhaps the best way to discover your particular place is to reflect on these words from Frederick Buechner, “Your calling is where your own greatest joy intersects with the needs of the world.”
My place in the body of Christ is most definitely NOT working with things electric! But give me an opportunity to listen to someone’s story, and I’m all ears and heart. As we begin a new year, in a world that desperately needs the Body of Christ, listen carefully to your heart, your mind, and your soul. Pay attention to what brings you greatest joy. Find an ever-so-small need, and use your particular gifts to address it. Take off from there!
Only God knows what might happen if we all did just that. ~ Anne
These meditations are provided as a ministry in this time of pandemic as a ministry of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.