Loving the Unfinished

Kathy doesn’t like coffee (– weird right?), but she likes palettes and tables. I don’t care much for palettes (– weird right?), but I like both coffee and tables. But this summer, in the crescendo of our love, we compromised and created a paletted coffee table.

Now, being frugal, we had never wanted to spend loads of $$ on a coffee table. In our stubbornness we have gone without a coffee table for the last four years. But, when our neighbor discarded an old, banged up palette in their trash, we quickly dreamed up a project, snuck into their yard, and snatched up the mass of wood and nails. Though it had in ugly blue hue, large blemishes and some fungal rot, in that moment, we decided we wanted it to become the metaphorical center piece of our home.

We replaced some of the broken boards, sanded it down, added some plywood and legs, and painted it chalkboard black. The unfinished product was better than our expectations… even though it still had blemishes… even though it was far from perfect. There was something remarkably lovable about the humility of this table and especially meaningful about the loving work we put into it.

unfinished |ˌənˈfiniSHt|

adjective — not finished or concluded; incomplete: The Castor’s coffee table was unfinished.

(of an object) not having been given an attractive surface appearance as the final stage of manufacture.


It’s a simple metaphor, really. We often try to revolve our lives around the impossible goal of flawlessness and perfection, only then to struggle with constant frustration with how faulty the “finished” product is… or how it diminishes in value once it is purchased.

The Christian life, however, centers around the rough, unfinished work of faith. Our value is in the eye of the Beholder. We come to realize that we cannot earn his love through faultlessness… 1) because we are not faultless, 2) because God’s love is unconditional anyways and 3) because Jesus is our Perfecter… and what he finds “perfect” is not always what we would expect (e.g. see Hebrews 12:1-13).

So, as we look to the Redeemer of our used-lives, we begin to accept our raw edges and dimples and cracks and uneven surfaces… knowing that God finds beauty and significant worth in us just as we are. We also begin to accept that God chooses to work on us… sanding us down and applying some tender care. He removes the unnecessary splinters and addresses the broken infrastructure of our lives. But every now and then, it is true, he intentionally keeps a bent nail in place or highlights the character of a scar. Oh, and occasionally, he also takes a seat, kicks back his legs, and admires the work has done in us.

Our unfinished coffee table has quickly become one of the favorite features in our home. We’ve played hours of games with our kids, circled around the table for conversations, stuffed it full of books, and piled it up with our belongings. It means a lot to us… and we find it’s flaws to be beautiful.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

2 thoughts on “Loving the Unfinished

  1. Hi Ken,
    Thanks for posting this!
    Congratulations on doing a wood working project together with Kathy(extra points for that).
    You really put God’s love in perspective. Great job. We miss you Castor clan.

    Like

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