Archive for the ‘Thought for the Week’ Category

I am amazed at how often God blesses me despite my best efforts and plans.  The other day, I was cutting wooden tongue-and-groove wall planks for a remodel project in our basement.  I was installing them vertically and had run about 3/4 of an inch short of a corner, so I needed a thin piece to finish it out.  Simple, right?  Except these planks are knotty Western cedar, not inexpensive, and cedar tends to split easily.  I didn’t want to waste any boards.  Also, the edge of the adjacent plank it needed to fit with wasn’t quite straight. I wasn’t sure how I’d work that out but figured maybe I could cut at an angle or just “fudge” it.  Being very careful to measure twice (three or four times, actually) I clamped a guide to my table saw to make sure the wood wouldn’t wander and locked down the rip fence tight.  I’d done everything I could do.  “Good to go,” I told myself.  The afternoon was nearly past, and I intended to cut this piece and be done for the day.  It went beautifully – smooth cut, no wandering, no splintering.  As I ran the last bit through the blade, pleased with my work, the furthest third of the piece snapped off at a knot and fell to the concrete floor.

I managed to turn the saw off and just stared, frustrated.  My mind quickly hopped from “How did that happen?” to “Why?” to “Why would you do this to me, God?”  I hadn’t rushed into it, wasn’t careless, my tools had worked well.  Some might say I ought not to have used a knotted piece, but as I mentioned, they’re all knotted, and I had cut around the knot to avoid a similar outcome.  The knot hadn’t been cracked or chipped; still, the piece broke.  Was I just too tired and had overlooked something?  Or was God trying to frustrate me?  As sparks of resentment began singing my heart I took both pieces into the house hoping to find a use for them but at least to verify my measurements had been accurate.

As I fit the larger portion of the broken piece into place on the top of the wall, I sensed the Holy Spirit brush against the walls of my heart.  You’re missing something, but you’re about to see.  I recalled the slight curve on the edge that I’d had no solution for.  When I added the smaller piece below, it hit me – the piece being broken actually enabled it to engage better and stay flush with the corner.  The cracked ends nested so perfectly the seam wasn’t even visible.  And I did see.  I saw the elegance of the Lord’s intent, more complete than all of my analysis of the work yet marvelously simple.  I saw the perfect fusion of love and grace and the reality of the broken human condition, why we are both the pinnacle of Creation and yet still need to be rescued.  And I saw the ecstasy of hope in him, restoring broken hearts and revealing beauty in ways invisible until after the touch of his heart.  Of course – he knew ahead of time what he intended.  I’m the one who was in the dark, and I realized that, beyond some general “hopes” the job would go well, I’d never asked for his help.

I felt a brief moment of shame for my brash and foolish interpretations, but there was no scolding from God upon realizing what he’d done.  He had blessed me – not because I was an amazing woodworker, nor because I wasn’t, but only because he loves me.  He likes giving gifts to me because I’m his son.  But he also enjoys teaching me, in all of these small moments, how much higher and more beautiful his ways are than mine and that I can trust him.  I can trust him with giant problems I have no idea how to handle and with the small ones where I think I have it handled.  But I need to ask, to seek him out.  He sees further and more perfectly than I, and he’s willing and wanting to bring me through any situation with grace, but not without growth.  That is true love.



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Which about the nature, design and intended purpose of a machine is more valuable – analysis and conclusions based on observation or explanation from the inventor, designer and creator?  Both are valuable, for each enhances the other. The impact of each without the other, however, is far from equal. 


The second without the first is most trustworthy but feels incomplete, for how could anyone fully admire and enjoy the result of the concept and work purely through hearsay or narrative?  The first without the second is much worse, giving rise to endless variety of partial evidences and wandering interpretation leading to meaningless and even hazardous decisions about the machine’s aspect and that of its origin. 


So there is an inherent hierarchy present:  the information from the designer is essential for comprehending, or at least apprehending the purpose of the machine; and observation and analysis, which, though subservient, enrich the understanding and experience of what is conveyed by the designer such that the original intent of the design, which initially unbeknownst to the observer always included their enjoyment, is progressively made complete.

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