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Inspirational Articles by Lygia Lovelace


The Wait-and-See Toyshop
by Lygia Lovelace


Late into the night the toymaker worked, fashioning tiny train sets, dollhouses, computer games, and anything else that he knew would attract the eyes of the children that walked by his shop every day. Especially in the winter months, near the holidays, he would see the little ones (some he'd never seen before) -- their faces pressed up against the glass, hot breath forming clouds on the windows -- their eyes large with wonder and excitement.


The Wait-and-See Toyshop had been there for many years in this old town called Used-to-Be. Toymakers had come and gone, though. Most of the children from days passed, now grown old, still lived in Used-to-Be. They remembered when the shop did a booming business. It had been a different time then -- a time of plenty, a time of self-focus. A time of prosperity.


But now, times were different. How did things change? What had happened? For one thing, children were different these days. They had different interests, different goals…and the older community from Used-to-Be didn't like it.


"Why can't things be as they once were? Children just don't play like they used to. When we were young, it was so much better! We knew how to have fun!"


Finally they came to the only conclusion they could seem to grasp -- it must be the toymaker's fault! After all, the toys do seem so different these days. There are too many gadgets and buttons! That toymaker, what was wrong with him!? If he would make toys the way the older people liked them, then more people would come to his shop! Didn't he realize that? Well, maybe he just wasn't the right toymaker for the job…


After all, business was slow, money was tight, and the children were just distracted with other things. The shop wasn't doing too well. Surely in a few years, the toyshop would just have to close its doors!


So, the ancients of the town of Used-to-Be sat around and "harrumphed" and "bah-humbugged" all day long. They spread their discontent faithfully, until everyone was glaring at the toymaker, sure that he was responsible for the "certain upcoming demise" of their beloved toy shop.


The toymaker's shoulders sagged as he continued wiring the little electronic toys that had been so popular last year. Maybe it was his fault, he thought. But what was he doing wrong? He had received excellent training. He had been making toys for many, many years. The children seemed happy enough when they came into his shop…things were just different. They amused themselves in different ways now. Toys were great -- it just seemed that the children didn't know how to play with them. They would gaze at the gadgets and building sets and seem interested…but then they would just wander out of the shop.


The toymaker's only friend (besides his family) was the Traveling Preacher. Something about the way the Preacher smiled at him and encouraged him lifted the toymaker's spirits. Without fail, the first place the Preacher would stop, when He came into the town of Used-to-Be, was the toymaker's shop. He would walk the aisles, gazing lovingly at the toys the old craftsman had made. He loved playing with the new-fangled devices, and the remote control sooper dooper racers that were sitting expectantly in a row on the shelf made Him laugh out loud with approval!


The Preacher's enthusiasm for playing always brought new life to the toymaker -- and tears of joy. The Preacher seemed delighted with his efforts. He brought new hope to the old man -- new inspiration -- new courage.


Oh, how the toymaker needed the Preacher's visits! He just never received any kind of encouragement anymore. In fact, the toymaker often wondered if he should just pack up and leave. After all, the townspeople of Used-to-Be seemed so dissatisfied with him. But the Preacher always said no.


"Persevere," he would tell the craftsman. "I want you here. You are a light to this old town."


So the toymaker continued making toys. He persevered. It was just that…he and his family felt so all alone…


So the Traveling Preacher gave the toymaker an idea! He put up a sign on the shop window:




He prepared the materials carefully -- the whole family joined in! They gathered supplies, they decorated…all were looking forward to the training classes that would make the toy shop come alive! The Traveling Preacher was a big help! He handed the toymaker a list of names of people who should definitely come to the classes.


On the long-awaited night of training, a fairly good crowd of people showed up! Some were there that the toymaker didn't even expect to see. They began crafting toys with a fair degree of interest…some of them were actually very good at it! The shop began to perk up, with colorful toys, both new-fangled and old-fashioned, donning the shelves.


More children began coming to the shop. The young ones began talking to the toymaker and his family, and this greatly encouraged the old man. Perhaps there was hope for the Wait-and-See Toyshop in the town of Used-to-Be! Perhaps he was a good toymaker after all! Townspeople were working together, making toys, laughing and talking, and at times, they were even playing! Who would have thought it?


Perhaps the most inspiring was old Mr. Maybee. He became curious about those "new gizmos and gadgets," and began learning how to play the electronic toys. He had to apologize to the Widow Grumpner when his remote control sooper dooper racer popped a wheelie over her shoe. Ms. Grumpner was NOT amused. The sheepish, playful look on Mr. Maybee's face made the toymaker laugh out loud!


The Traveling Preacher was so pleased the next time He came to town. He joined in and played with the townspeople. The people began to see the Preacher in a whole new Light. This made the toymaker almost burst with joy!


But…this isn't the end of the story. This toy shop continues. At times, it will grow empty again. The community will neglect their toy making classes; toy trains and Play Stations will grow silent. The ancient community will begin to grumble again and will relentlessly criticize the toymaker (go figure!). The toymaker will become discouraged.


It isn't always "Happily Ever After." It isn't always fun.


But each time, always and without fail, the Traveling Preacher visits the toymaker. In that still small voice, He gently tells the craftsman, "Persevere. I want you here. You are a light to this old town."


Each time, the toymaker and his family shed a few tears, and then get back to work.


Who knows where the shop will be in a few years? Who really cares? Though most of the townspeople don't realize it, it is the Traveling Preacher who actually owns the shop. It is up to Him.


And the toymaker is only there because of Him.


If you visit the town of Used-to-Be, turn right at the corner and go to the toy shop. You will see the toymaker there, in his craftsman's apron. He is fashioning toys. He is also gazing prayerfully out the window at the community outside. Perhaps someone will visit the shop today…


Oh, and have you noticed? The name of the shop has changed! Look upon the wooden sign that announces the shop's existence…


The Watch-and-Pray Toyshop


The new name was the Traveling Preacher's idea.


So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God,
who makes things grow.
The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose,
and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.


For we are God's fellow workers…
I Corinthians 3:7-9a

Copyright © 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com

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