I spent the last eight days hiking and camping in the wilderness of the Utah desert with young men with varied histories. Some struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Some have suffered terrible abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to be their protectors. And some had made such terrible life choices that they found themselves plucked out of their normal environs and woke up in the middle of nowhere.
Each week of work I find myself humbled to be in a position of influence with people who desperately need direction, love, and mentoring. This last week was no different. As a staff team we chose a theme for the week, one that could hopefully offer a helpful metaphor for our lives.
I found this particular week’s theme to be especially beautiful and important. It’s not only applicable to teens who are struggling to find their way, but for any and all.
“An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house building business to live a more leisurely life with his wife. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house, as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes. But in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials.
It was an unfortunate way to end his career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter, “This is your house,” he said, “my gift to you.”
What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built non-too well.
So it is with us. We build lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built with our own hands. If we had realized this sooner we would have done it all differently.
Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Every day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.”
What materials are you using in the house you are building?
Excerpt from The Carpenter. Author unknown.