As stress mounts near the end of another semester at DTS, I'm finding it all the more important to remain physically active. This can be accomplished through training kung fu, generic workouts, walking the dogs or hockey with the kids (rug hockey, street hockey, kitchen hockey, etc.). But one activity that remains faithful in keeping my head straight is working with my hands on a project requiring tools and precision. The project can be anything from making another set of shelves (we always need more shelving), to constructing benches for outside use, or my newest one: a new dog house that will house our "sled team" (four large dogs).
This morning, before I sequestered myself in my office again for hours of more typing and study, I went to the church and retrieved some of the boards left in its junk pile awaiting burning. Confirming beforehand that these boards had no other intended use, I pulled out the rusty nails and cut them to sizes that could fit into our Dodge Neon. What once had been discarded as junk wood now lies neatly stacked on the lumber pile in my garage awaiting use in my project. Some may say that these boards do not look as nice or as clean as the boards I bought from Lowe's. Yet, a little sanding here or trimming there and they will be perfectly suited for the project I will use them in.
I suspect our lives are not greatly dissimilar from the lumber. Some may feel discarded into a junk pile, awaiting destruction. However, when the Master "Craftsman" spots them in the heap, He envisions the usefulness they represent for His next project. As a result, He redeems them, takes them home, then sands and trims where necessary in order for them to be what He first saw while they were back in the pile. The "sanding and trimming" I undergo from the Spirit is not always pleasant. In fact, it's frequently unpleasant. Nevertheless, I would much rather that my Father the Craftsman do what is necessary to make me useful to him and his project on Earth, than the alternative of having been left in the "burn" pile.
These are the truths that manual labor gives me the opportunity to meditate on. During work that is physical, I am free to focus on Jesus the Craftsman, whose general contractor work in Galilee must have been important preparation for his earthly ministry. All that time spent working with his hands up until the time when they would touch people to heal them; all the nails he must have held up to the day when the nails would hold him to the cross. I find work of this kind to be a great joy wherein God reminds of many things about himself.