Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I Came, I Saw

Tonight, I'm doing a presentation to our Wednesday night Bible study about my trip to Vietnam. On all my tests/quizzes/memory verses, I give the kids a bonus question worth one free answer. I try to make the question completely random so no one has any better chance to get it correct than his or her neighbor. Several years ago, the question one day had to do with which one of my former players had told me that week she was planning to go to Vietnam with me on a mission trip in the summer of 2011. I listed ten former players on the screen. I admit, I played dirty by listing four of my players players of Vietnamese descent. The correct answer was Leticia Cuellar, who coincidentally signed a basketball scholarship with Faulkner University the week before! The following, from July 16, 2007, concerns my ineptitude in one part of my mission trip existence!

I've never been accused of having great dexterity while holding tools in my hands. Part of our Honduras mission trips includes building so I am at a natural disadvantage. Oh, I can hammer a nail and mix concrete on the ground as the locals do. I can push a wheelbarrow and carry lumber. But when the skill requires precision, I plead ignorance. This past week, however, I stepped out of my comfort zone and ventured into uncharted- and potentially dangerous- territory: I used a power saw. Now, for those of you who frequent Home Depot, that might seem like nothing but it was a huge leap for me. Landon Roeder demonstrated how to position myself in relation to the circular blade and the proper method of squeezing the trigger and lowering the blade on the wood siding. I was amazed; the boards just seemed to fall in two! Some of my co-workers, knowing my weaknesses, were duly impressed. Chad Hedgepath, the director of Las Palmas Refuge and a ten year witness to my construction endeavors, nominated me for Most Improved Laborer. I preferred Rookie Of The Year but the ten year part tends to rule that out. Lest I got conceited, fourteen year old Mary Buzbee put me in my place. When I picked up a plugged-in jig saw, she commanded in no uncertain terms, "Steve, put that down!" I meekly obeyed.

I have a confession. Each time I made a cut with that electrical saw, I was nervous. It was easy to see myself making a mistake and ruining a board or being careless and maiming myself. (Do you know what movie scene I kept replaying in my head? In the film biography of Johnny Cash, Walk The Line, Johnny's fourteen year old brother Jack was killed in a horrific accident with a table saw while cutting wood. It was gruesome....and a healthy reminder.) Our job site was actually four sites as we worked on four cabins concurrently. A number of times, we lost electricity as the cords we shared were accidentally or intentionally unplugged. The blade that tore through the wood so effortlessly became ineffective, just a round, motionless piece of metal. Our spiritual lives are like that. A disconnect from the Lord leaves us motionless and ineffective. The Scriptures are replete with references to the power which comes from God to work through his children. It is readily available to us although we prefer at times to use our own very limited abilities. If we had made each cut with hand saws, we would still be on the side of that mountain, struggling to put up even the walls, let alone the doors, windows, roof, etc. But when all the lines were in place, even a novice like me had great power at his disposal. And despite the fact that my artistry with wood is flawed, I made a contribution. Don't laugh but yesterday Chad e-mailed me and said I could come build his new house in Honduras anytime I wanted. I think I'm going to have to pray about that one!

Applicable quote of the day:
"If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it is the best possible substitute for it."
James Garfield

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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