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  • Writer's pictureStephen Percy

Lessons in Joinery

We currently have a joiner in our house.

We’re having a bit of internal work done to remove a partition wall and solid handrail up the first stairs to allow more light in. Not the biggest job in the world. Certainly nothing Channel 4 would be interested in featuring in one of their building project programmes, but nonetheless the work is underway.

Before we contacted the joiner, we had a look at what we thought the job involved. Now, for those who know me, you’ll know that DIY is absolutely not my strong suit (in fact, it’s so bad that the sum ‘useful contribution’ I made to ‘helping’ my dad fix something on a car once when I was younger was to turn the torch I was holding for him away from him to try and make scary silhouettes!) I can see how God has gifted me in certain ways, but dexterity with tools and creativity with materials is not one of them. Vicky’s a different story. She’s really good at mending, fixing, visualising, thinking things through, etc, but between us we knew this job was too big. It involved knocking walls down, cutting other bits of wall out, fixing things in place that needed to be sturdy enough to keep the kids safe, and more. Not for us, we concluded.

So we found our man. We read reviews on Check-a-Trade and were impressed by the photos we saw – the work he’d done in other people’s homes – and got him out to size up and price up!) the work.

His first visit to us was fascinating. He came with a joiner’s eye. He saw things we hadn’t spotted. He talked us through issues as he saw them. Gave a perspective based on his wisdom, a wisdom much greater than ours. He was patient and answered questions we had and he gave us the price to think about. He said all the work would take up to two weeks – quite a bit longer than we’d reckoned on. But he was good. He knew his stuff, and his wise insights that he had suggested we could trust him.

So we booked him.

We put our trust in him. We entrusted the improvement of our home to him.

And he set to work.

Entrusting any project like this to anyone is a challenge. They don’t care for your home the way you do – they can’t, it’s not theirs. Truth be told, it’s a little scary.

And so followed dust, sawdust, noise, mess until all that was in the way and needed removing had been stripped out. Then what he was creating could really begin.

I guess this blog would have been better written after the work was finished (maybe there’s a part 2, who knows), but as I was thinking this morning, I realised there are parallels with our Christian walk… even to the point that we entrust our lives to a carpenter!

When the first national lockdown started, DIY sales rocketed. People wanted to take the opportunity to make improvements to their homes. Our problem was that DIY self-improvement wouldn’t cut it. We needed expert help. We needed someone with skills and expertise that far outstripped our own, someone with a track record for making beauty out of ugliness, someone with capacity to create something new out of something tired and not fit-for purpose. We needed help. And so it is with us. God doesn’t leave us and watch on as we try to figure out how to make little tweaks and minor improvements, instead He wants us to entrust our lives to Him to allow Him to work creatively to bring healing and wholeness and to bring beauty out of mess.

This isn't our house, by the way!

Part of the problem we face is that whilst we may recognise that we need help, we’re often reluctant to entrust the work to someone else. We’re so often consumed by the idea of being the captain of our own ship that we fail to ask the Master Carpenter, Jesus, for his help. Maybe the fear of change cripples us; we know we’re not ‘as intended’, but better the familiarity of this existence that the potential inconvenience and pain of change, right? Or maybe the idea of things being stripped out fills us with dread. Maybe with every ounce of effort we’re just about keeping it all together, and if someone were to begin to do a proper repair job, everything would unravel, and the stripped back brick and the missing door frames would be ugly and a bit embarrassing.

And what about the time? We need everything yesterday. It’s just the world we live in, so we don’t have the option of things taking time. If it’s not quick, I don’t want it. But change and healing do take time. Repair, recreation and restoration are often slow-won. But worthwhile.

Have you ever seen Repair Shop? Progress in some of those tasks is sometimes painstakingly slow, bordering on frustration. But when the repaired 100 year-old teddy (or whatever is being restored) is handed back to its owner, the joy of both the owner and the repair person is undeniable. It was all worthwhile.

So we invited a joiner in and entrusted our home to him. He thinks in ways that are different to us. He sees things in different ways to us, but he is wiser than us. He knows what’s needed and he knows what’s best. And so it is with God. His ways are not ours. His perspective on things isn’t shaped and skewed in the way that ours are. His wisdom is perfect. He knows what we need and He knows the way to lead us to it. In gentleness and patience he will work in those who will allow him a wonderful transformation. He will bring restoration and repair, even when that means large chunks being stripped out. It may take time and on occasions it may not look pretty, but it’ll be worth it if you’ll let him. And unlike a tradesman whose reputation is only as good as his last online review, this God is absolutely trustworthy. His knowledge of you is impeccable. He knows your frailties and weaknesses and in tenderness and gentleness he will work in ways that delight both him and you. If you’ll let him.

Will you let the restoration begin?

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