I come from a family of carpenters. I always marveled at the skill possessed by grandfather, father and uncle, even my first cousin who makes a good living building houses and cabinets. God called me to be a preacher for a reason. I did not inherit the skills needed to build a house.
When I was growing up the church had a group for boys called Royal Ambassadors, RA’s for short. It was an organization parallel to scouting, with merit badges and different levels of membership, designed around a specifically Christian theme. I remember one project was to build a birdhouse. No problem, I thought. That will be easy. I can build things just like my grandfather.
I gathered tools—a saw, a hammer, a brace and bit—does anybody even know what that is anymore? It’s a drill powered only by your hands. I rounded up some nails, got the necessary wood, laid the plans out in front of me, and began to build. It was in completing the project that I discovered once and for all that I would not be a carpenter like my grandfather. When I sawed the boards with a handsaw (one of the requirements), the cuts were far from square. I bent about every third or fourth nail I drove. I even drilled the hole that would be the entrance to the birdhouse off center. It is painful for me to tell you these things, the grandson and son of a carpenter, but they are true. My birdhouse finished dead last in the Rutherwood Baptist Church Royal Ambassador Birdhouse Competition that summer.
I was crushed.
Building things, we sometimes think, is easy. All you need is a few tools, a blueprint, and the desire and you can put up a house. I discovered that summer in the RA’s birdhouse competition that building is not always that easy.
You can read the rest of the sermon here.