“Geppetto’s Workshop”

“Then the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground.

He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils

and the man became a living person.” Genesis 2

“Wisdom cries aloud in the streets” - sometimes even through a cartoon.

Have you seen Pinocchio? Have you read Pinocchio? Have you ever felt like Pinocchio?  I have. My mom used to read to me (& gave me a copy from Italy recently). And I still find life lessons, wisdom, & even God all there in Geppetto’s Workshop


 The story begins in Tuscany. A carpenter, Master Antonio, has found a block of pine wood which he plans to carve into a leg for his table. When he begins, however, the log shouts out, "Don't chop me!" Frightened by the talking log, Master Cherry does not know what to do until his neighbor Geppetto, drops by looking for a piece of wood to build a marionette; seeing a perfect opportunity, Antonio gives the block to Geppetto.

Geppetto is extremely poor and plans to make a living as a puppeteer in hopes of earning "a crust of bread and a glass of wine". He carves the block into a boy and names him "Pinocchio" (=’Pine Nut”). As soon as Pinocchio's nose has been carved, it begins to grow with his innate obstinance. Before he is even finished Pinocchio already has a mischievous attitude; no sooner has Geppetto finished carving Pinocchio's feet than the puppet proceeds to kick him.

Once the puppet has been finished and Geppetto teaches him to walk, Pinocchio runs away. He is caught by a police officer but when people say that Geppetto dislikes children, the cop assumes that Pinocchio has been treated poorly and imprisons Geppetto.

Left alone, Pinocchio heads back to Geppetto's house to get something to eat. Once he arrives at home, aTalking Cricket who has lived in the house for over a century tells him that boys who do not obey their parents grow up to be donkeys. In retaliation, Pinocchio throws a hammer at the cricket, and accidentally kills it.

Geppetto cares for Pinocchio in many ways, anyway. When P. burns off his feet trying to warm them, G carves him a new pair. G has only 3 pieces of fruit to eat, but gives them to P and teaches him how to waste nothing.

In gratitude, Pinocchio promises to go to school. Since Geppetto has no money to buy school books, he sells his only coat for Pinocchio. But on the way to school, P is sidetracked by the music & crowds at the theater and sells his books to buy a ticket. There, he gets in a lot of trouble but is rescued by a kind man who learns about P’s poor father and gives him 5 gold pieces for Geppetto.

As Pinocchio heads home to give the coins to his father, he meets a fox (who pretends to be lame) and a cat (who pretends to be blind) on the side of the road. They tell him that if he plants his coins in the Field of Miracles, outside the city, then they will grow into a tree with a thousand gold coins. Believing them, Pinocchio heads off on a journey with the Cat and Fox. P is conned by Cat & Fox, who have now skipped town.

As Pinocchio sets off, the ghost of Jiminy Cricket appears, telling him to go home and give the coins to his father. But, Pinocchio ignores him again, and heads for the city anyway. The Blue Fairy rescuesPinocchio, then asks Pinocchio where the gold coins are. Pinocchio says he has lost them. As he tells this lie (and more) his nose begins to grow until it is so long he cannot turn around in the room. The Fairy explains to Pinocchio that it is his lies that are making his nose grow, then she calls in a flock of woodpeckers to chisel down his nose.

P is helped to the seashore where he learns Geppetto is building a boat to go out and search for Pinocchio. But, Geppetto I has been swallowed by a whale.

A kindly dolphin gives Pinocchio a ride to the nearest island, which is the Island of Busy Bees. Everyone is working and no one will give Pinocchio any food as long as he will not help. He finally offers to carry a lady's water jug home in return for food and water.

When they get to the house, Pinocchio recognizes the lady as the Turquoise Fairy, now miraculously old enough to be his mother. She says she will act as Pinocchio's mother and Pinocchio will begin going to school. She hints that if Pinocchio does well in school he will become a real boy.

On his way to school again, he is fooled again, plays hooky, and winds up in jail, but he escapes. Along the way Pinocchio tells people he is always truthful and obedient. Again his nose grows longer, but now Pinocchio has now learned to immediately tell the truth about himself, causing the nose to shrink back to normal.

P receives another chance to go back to school. He does excellently l and passes with high honors. The Fairy promises that Pinocchio will be a real boy on the next day and says he should invite all his friends to a party. He goes to invite everyone, but he is sidetracked into a place called the Land of Play, where everyone plays all day and never works. P has a wonderful time in the land of Play—until one morning when he awakes with donkey ears. He is told that boys who do nothing but play and never work always grow into donkeys.

Pinocchio is then thrown into the sea, where he is swallowed by a whale. Inside the whale, Pinocchio sees a light from far off and he follows the light. At the other end is Geppetto, who had been living on a little boat that was also inside the whale. Pinocchio and Geppetto manage to get out from inside the whale, and are helped to shore.

They are invited to stay with J.Cricket and P works for a nearby farmer. After long months of working for the farmer, and supporting the ailing Geppetto, he goes to town with what money he has saved to buy himself a new suit. He meets a snail, who tells him that the Blue Fairy is ill and needs money. Pinocchio instantly gives the snail all the money he has, promising that he will help the Fairy as much as he is helping his father. That night, he dreams he is visited by the Fairy, who kisses him. When he wakes up, he is a real boy at last. Furthermore, Pinocchio finds that the Fairy left him a new suit and boots, and a bag which Pinocchio thinks is the money he originally loaned to the Blue Fairy. The boy is shocked to find instead forty freshly minted gold coins. He is also reunited with Geppetto, now healthy and resuming his woodcarving. They live happily ever after all.

It all started, and finished, there in Geppetto’s Workshop.

(What are some) Life-Lessons from G’s Workshop:

Pinocchio: created in Geppetto’s workshop, goes on a quest to be a “real boy” (something like our journeys). He has a 1000 good intentions (like me).

He is a bit naïve, yet tries to be worldly wise. He is controlled by many strings. P always seems to divert from his course in order to follow the easiest route, which often means lying and hoping to get away with no consequences. After a while he gets so used to lying he can no longer tell the difference between truth and falsehood, right and wrong. He has nose & cricket problems and he finds himself in trouble, and far from home. But all the while he is seeking to become real.

P. is  a universal parable of human destiny. A mirror held up to show us who we really are and to help us to become more real. Some wood shavings of our lost souls in hope of the redemption going on in a bigger workshop. 

And maybe if we take a look through Geppetto’s Workshop we might see something of God’s craftsmanship in making us into real people.

From this story, I realize that to become a real person – authentic & genuine - I need…

I. To Realize who has made me, and that I’m made in God’s image, like P & G.

  • Geppetto is a Craftsman – like my Dad (workbench, tool box)
  • Craftsmanship = doing a job well for its own sake, skillfully using all tools available, not settling for “good enough”, making something worth making, finishing the last detail, cleaning up & cleaning your tools – Craftsmanship is doing good work, with excellence, unto God – like G, like Dad – like God
  • We are God’s workmanship – says Paul in Ephesians.

God, like Geppetto, is a craftsman (“Then the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils and the man became a living person.” Gen 2) 

And we live within his workshop every moment of our lives, God creatively helping us to become more genuine, more authentic human beings. (“He who began a good work in you will perfect it…” Phil 1:6)

To become real we need to…

II. Cut the strings (powers that we allow to control us)

If we choose to disconnect from our maker, we become prey to other strings seeking to control our lives. Obstinate independence, like P’s, makes us prey to dependence on other powers (whether we realize it or not).

Who pulls the strings in your life?

  • A boss, a company, a spouse, a child?
  • Money, sex, power, status
  • A particular social-political agenda?

How do you know? (Do an inventory of time, energy and money spent & you’ll probably find out who or what pulls the strings)

Our vulnerability is in our fears and weaknesses, as well as in our pride & strengths. 

Ex: me this week, fear of Kathy’s cancer & fear of suffering & death.

I am having to take a good look at these things in relation to the God who made me and my wife.

How do we cut the strings?

1. Exodus1: Hebrew midwives, disobeyed Pharoah b/c they “feared God more than man”. Fear included awe, reverence, respect, & obedience. 

Fearing God more, enabled the Hebrew midwives to cut Pharoah’s strings.

2. Hebrews 2: Trusting in the resurrection  - “For only in this way could he set free all those who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” 

Christ’s defeat of death helps us to cut strings that ought not control us.

To be real, we need to…

III. Deal with Cats & Foxes (enticements & seductions & temptations: lust of flesh, eye, pride of life, I Jn)

Cats & foxes come in many shapes & sizes: We usually know what they are. We need to take courageous steps to get away from them.

Young Joseph was seduced by Pharoah’s wife, but he wisely fled, even though he lost his shirt, and had to deal with false accusations later – He dealt with the Cat & Fox – it was needful in order to become real.

To become real we need …

IV. To know what real looks like

  • Paul’s portrayal of Jesus in Phil 2 is as real as it gets

(He emptied himself in humility, identified with us in all things human, and he came as servant, choosing to lay down his life for others.)

Whereas we often try to play God in our lives and those of others,

Jesus, who was fully God, did not grasp onto divinity, but emptied himself and became human. Humility comes down. Humility makes us real.

Whereas p & we often try to isolate ourselves from others (cf. K’s cancer),

Jesus, becoming human, was fully human, identifying with us in every aspect of life. Identifying with others sharing in their joys and sufferings makes us more real. We taste something of their experience. We share more of real life together.

Whereas P & we seek position & power -

Jesus came as servant, laying down his life for others.

When we try to save our lives, we lose authenticity, when we give them for the sake of others we become more genuine.

Jesus is God’s model of real

  • Real in P = becoming a real boy: learning to take responsibility for himself and for others; learning to not take the easy way, but to stay on the right path; learning to tell the truth, learning to listen to his conscience and finally sacrifice for someone else. These too will make us real boys & girls.

To become authentic, genuine, real, we need to…

V. Allow suffering to carve us into real people

Mr Brauer & wood carving

P’s experience of foolish consequences, the shame of abandoning his father, the harsh lessons of deception & seduction, the forces of nature – all different kinds of suffering - helped shape him into a real person.

(Paul, who suffered more kinds of suffering than I can imagine, said it this way: Rom 5: “Suffering helps us develop endurance, and endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confidence in the hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us.”)

These are the deep cuts of God, of craftsmen who know what they’re doing

Examples from ours recently:

Waiting on Kidney CT scan, dreading the Kaiser call

K: (ESL) “I am God’s & trust him to do the best with my life.”

G: Learning to trust God, and his deep cuts

We learn to look at sufferings through the love of God, rather than look at God’s love through our suffering

Sufferings are not caused by God, but used by God to carve his character into our souls, thus making us more real.

We become real boys & girls by…

VI. Using the help we’re given (Jiminy Cricket & Blue Fairy Wisdom)

  • Conscience – Like P, there’s that nose that keeps on growing as we keep lying- to ourselves, to others, to God. We’ve been given an internal monitor of our thoughts & behavior, a moral compass helping to guide our choices, a GPS to help us navigate through life’s challenges. Enter Mr J. Cricket.
pinnochio & jiminy.jpg

There is a part of us that reads our inner self, and when we violate conscience, there is no peace or rest. We call it a bad conscience, when in reality it is doing the job God intended, if it’s working properly to help us become more real, we should honor it, and call it good. 

Conscience needs to be properly tuned. It can be tuned too low (a dull conscience, often dulled by ignoring it – or throwing a hammer at it to silence the cricket’s chirp) or a conscience tuned too high (being overscrupulous). 

Paul = an example of a conscience out of tune (killing Christians, no problem. He needed a further revelation of truth in Christ to tune his conscience to God’s will) 

We need help discerning between true & false guilt (that which we are responsible for, and that which we are not.) 

I find that it is helpful to allow my conscience to be tuned by the scriptures, particularly tuned in relation to Jesus, the revealer of God’s heart for us.

Or, in other words: if we tune P with JC with BlueFairy with Geppetto we will have a pretty good GPS navigator through life

  • How do we tune our consciences?

1. Confess our sins, accept God’s sacrifice in Christ for us, repent of it.

P. began to immediately change when his nose grew, learning how to tune his conscience to the instructive voice of Jiminy Cricket.

2. Do what we know, no matter how small. P began to take care of Geppetto and the Blue Fairy and thus tuning his conscience.

Finally, we become real when we…

VII. Reconnect with Geppetto (Prod Son & Waiting Father)

P becomes aware of G’s long-suffering love for his prodigal puppet, even though he’s been a fool. G is the waiting father yearning for P to come home. G builds a boat to find P (in the process he is swallowed by a whale). G sacrifices his life for his beloved creation P. These are the kinds of things that go on in G’s Workshop.

Like Geppetto, God creates us, seeks for us to become real, suffers our foolish choices, waits for us when we are away, seeks us, and sacrifices himself to bring us home, and make us real. “We are His workmanship…He who began a good work in us, will complete it…” These are the kinds of things that go on in God’s workshop.