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
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 --
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:
COME ONE & ALL! LEARN HOW TO MAKE TOYS FOR YOURSELF!
TEACH YOUR COMMUNITY HOW TO PLAY…
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
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
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
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
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