The Project

When our front porch began to exhibit characteristics of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, I saw an inestimable opportunity to learn a new skill.

Boards, saws and all other tools of the carpentry trade have never been my first love, nor supportive of my spiritual gifts — other than that of "patience." But I am a naturally thrifty person, and, spying a chance to save some cash, I succumbed to the question that has been the shipwreck of so many myopic men before me: "Why not do it myself?"

Two weeks of vacation time stretched before me — plenty of time, I reasoned, to accomplish a project so small. As I figured it, it could be accomplished in three short steps: 1) Tear the old porch down. 2) Acquire the materials. 3) Build the sparkling new replacement.

Steps one and two went by in a flash, proving only my competence at demolition. "That was easy," I thought. But the house now resembled a four-year-old child missing two front teeth. And thus began "the vacation that never was."

Those two weeks were filled with repeated challenges to pride. In spite of dusty applications of geometry and physics theorems, more than once I caught myself muttering some variation of, "I cut it twice, and it's still too short!"

When I was nearly flummoxed, a close friend saw my dilemma and brought an expert over to give me a few pointers. Someone who had done it before — time and time again — made it seem so simple. Without his plan, my project would have been lost.

Without the Creator's touch, our lives would be lost. Our best reasoning, finest logic, greatest wisdom might indeed be foolishness to someone who has done it before — time and time again. When the Creator came to this formless project, the Bible says simply "He spake and it was done." Why, then, do we often ascribe our highest accolades to those whose judgment countenances little room for faith or divine intervention.

C.S. Lewis pointedly remarks: "Ancient man approached God ... as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: If God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease; he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench, and God is in the dock."1

I want God "on the bench." I've come short too many times in my life to think I know better. I believe what the Creator miraculously began millennia ago; He is well able to finish in a manner beyond my ken. Sure, it's a matter of faith. But what prize of eternal value isn't?

And, oh, the porch? It's done — as is my "vacation!"

"More than once I caught myself muttering some variation of, 'I cut it twice, and it's still too short!'"

1 God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, C. S. Lewis, Walter Hooper (Editor), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Reprint edition (October 1994; original copyright 1970 by the Trustees of the Estate of C. S. Lewis.)

October 01, 2009 / Let's Talk