“I Can’t Build You a Cow.”

Imagine you’re in a drafting class. You show up for the first day of class, and the teacher stands up and tells you that this class is for designing homes. Each of you (students) is going to design a home, and at the end of the year, the teacher is going to hire a contractor to build it for you. (Also imagine this teacher has a ridiculous, unlimited budget for the course.) You’re designing your own home – so do a good job.

Now, this is a class. None of you is an expert architect – yet. That’s why the teacher spends about half of the time telling you how to use the rulers, the pencils, the graph paper – how to design a house – and about half of the time reminding you that you’ve each got a rubber eraser on your desk. Seriously. He won’t shut up about the eraser. You’re going to mess up eventually. Don’t try to make the screw-up a part of your house – just erase it and start that part over.

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Now imagine you’re all drawing, and the teacher comes up to your desk. He looks over your shoulder a minute, then says quietly, “That’s an interesting house you’re designing.”

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“It’s not a house,” you say a little defensively. “It’s a cow.”

“You’re designing a cow?” the teacher asks.

“No,” you shoot back. “I’m drawing. This is a drawing class. I’m drawing a cow.”

The teacher raises one eyebrow, then slowly says, “Did you realize this was a drafting class when you signed up for it?”

“Yes. But I don’t want to draw houses anymore. There are too many rules with houses. I just want to draw a cow.”

The teacher rocks back on his heels for a moment, thinking. “But,” says the teacher, “you’re designing the house you’re going to live in next year. If you design a house, I’ll build it for you. But I can’t build you a cow to live in.”

“Well, I already started the cow!” you scream, nearly in tears. “It’s too late now, and you can’t stop me! I want to draw a cow!”

The teacher simply picks up the eraser and holds it out to you. You pick up the eraser, throw it across the room, and storm out.

(You can stop imagining now. You’re not this much of a drama queen, anyway.)

Sometimes, I feel like this is the way God sees me. He asked me if I wanted to become like Him. I said yes. So He signed me up to learn how, sent me to Earth, and gave me a set of rules to live by. The rules keep the “house” from falling down, if you will. These are the steps to become like Him. And sometimes I mess up. And that’s okay, because there’s forgiveness, and a Savior. There’s an eraser.

And then sometimes, I’m like, “Look, I don’t understand why I’m doing any of this anyway. I just want to mind my own business and do my own thing. I’m not hurting anybody by living my own life.”

And I’m not. I’m hurting myself. Because while everybody else is building a house, I’m drawing cows. Whoop-de-doo. Sometimes I feel like God just kind of looks at me, smiles a little bit, and says, “Rachel, what are you doing?”

My own thing. So there. Leave me alone.

Do I really want Him to leave me alone? No. Do I really want to leave the class? No. Sometimes I’m just embarrassed that I got distracted and started drawing cows instead of doing something with actual significance. And sometimes I’m just embarrassed about all the squeaking that eraser is doing as I erase pretty much everything I was just drawing.

But if all I’ve got on my page is a cow, it’s worth taking the time to erase – or ask for a new piece of paper.

Maybe this is a weird comparison, but it just makes it a little clearer to me why God would expect similar things from each of His children. And also why He keeps reminding me to repent. It’s not because I’m an idiot – it’s because I’m an expert still in training. ♥

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