Yesterday evening one of the guys in our neighborhood trimmed our huge row of bushes in the front yard. Near the end, a branch got caught in the trimmers and threw them off track, rendering them useless. Normally, I would have most likely said, “It’s a $30 set of trimmers – I’ll just get a new one.” But God gave me a gift in that Bo wanted to try and get to the bottom of the problem. And so we began removing screws, testing one part at a time, getting deeper and deeper into the workings of the trimmer until it was completely disassembled. Completely (except for the motor). Lo and behold, we were able to figure out what the problem was, actually got the blades back on track, and then began to reassemble the trimmer in the gathering dusk. Most who know me understand that I am not a very handy person, and I must admit I contributed very little to the repair job. But when we finished, as I thanked Bo and said, “You did it,” he insisted that, no, we did it.
He had commented as we were putting it back together that he didn’t mind taking extra time to do this – the way he saw it, God had a plan for the two of us to spend some extra time together. And so what could have been a nuisance, thrown away as waste, became a gift of fellowship and learning. It’s not often that I put myself in a position to learn from and receive from my neighbors, and I could stand to do that more often. Bo had such a knack for figuring things out, and in a very kind way, he brought me into that work with him and made me feel like I was helping.
It reminded me of a story that my teacher, Gary Deddo, told about his dad who was a carpenter. Little Gary had nailed together a couple pieces of wood as his dad was building cabinets, and he brought it to dad saying, “Look, I’m helping.” And that wonderful father said, “That’s great. I know just where I will put that.” And he built it into the back of the cabinets, using what his son had offered. Gary went on to say that our efforts for God are much like that story – we offer our best, which compared to the master are but crude and elementary, and He takes that and works it into His awesome creative work that He is completing with skill and beauty.
God used a homeless man, almost twice my age, who really doesn’t follow Him very closely, to reveal His heart and give me a gift of patience, persistence, and fellowship. Nuisance and waste became blessing.