Years ago my wife bought me a table saw for Christmas, and I’ve enjoyed the first hobby I’ve had in my life. I like what the Canadian born physician, Sir William Osler, once told an audience of medical professionals:
No man is really happy or safe without a hobby, and it makes precious little difference what the outside interest may be—botany, beetles or butterflies; roses, tulips or irises; fishing, mountaineering or antiques—anything will do as long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard.
But woodworking is more than a hobby. It has marvelous metaphors for your spiritual life.
In an earlier post, I shared the first half of 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms your spiritual life:
- You will have to cut cross grain, so stay sharp.
- Good tools save you time and give you better results.
- You can do a lot more than you think with the little you have.
- Following a plan gets you where you want to go with greater success.
- Mistakes always teach you, and they rarely ruin the piece.
In this post, let’s complete the list it’s taken me years to write.
What would you add to the list?
We live in an age where avoiding obstacles, traveling great distances, and finding something to drink no longer prove a challenge.
With a transportation system that requires little more than a basic understanding of road signs and airline gates, our world gives little attention to the importance of geography.
But think about the times you visit a place you’ve never been before. It’s all strange.
(Photo: Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee)
The unfamiliar landmarks, the sudden turns, and the unexpected potholes are impediments to your progress. It’s the same with Bible study.
Those of us who seek to understand the meaning of the Bible strongly believe in interpreting a passage in its context. But context is more than words. When one reads the Bible, it becomes clear how geography is the stage on which the redemptive narrative takes place.
The land God chose was not arbitrary, for He designed even the land itself to develop the spiritual lives of His people. The land was never intended to be just a place to live.
The same is true where you live.
My favorite Jewish carpenter other than Jesus is Norm Abram. I’m a weekend woodworker, and the hobby has done more than just save me money and provide a healthy diversion for my mind.
It’s more than sawdust and saw blades. For me, it’s also spiritual.
(Photo: Completing a recent project)
During the many hours I’ve spent woodworking, I’ve come to realize how much of the craft relates to our walk with God. I’m not alone. The Shakers of the 19th-century viewed the craftsmanship of their unique furniture as an extension of their worship of God.
I want to share with you 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms the spiritual life. I’ll do this in two posts.
For fun, I’ll also show you some pictures of stuff I’ve built.
As worriers, we often place more value on possibilities than certainties.
We’ll invest plenty of money to insure ourselves against theft, flood, fire, sickness, or accident—all only possibilities. But we give little thought to the most certain event in our lives.
Death. Even life insurance doesn’t cover that.
I believe in insurance. I pay for it, consider it prudent, and enjoy its benefits. In a way, my blog distributes spiritual insurance in bulk.
- I explain people’s options and risks regarding the events following death.
- I do my best to warn them of buying into cheap insurance that looks good up front but raises its premiums exorbitantly and reneges on paying the final benefits of their claim.
Such shams offer heaven for the price of good deeds.
Only God offers the best insurance for the most certain event in your life.
I never trust myself with a snooze button.
It’s too easy to tell myself, “Just 5 more minutes,” about 7 more times. Plus, snoozing never helps! I feel just as tired after snoozing as I did beforehand.
I gain nothing. I’ve only lost time.
The problem of “mind over mattress” is one we all face, and we all deal with it in different ways.
- Some people set the alarm earlier to allow for the snooze.
- Others put the clock out of reach so they have to get up to turn off the alarm.
- Others tell themselves, Tomorrow I’ll begin to get up on time; but not today.
Spiritually speaking, we’re often called to “wake up” and get moving.
The problem? We’re tempted to slap the snooze button.
But when we do, we never gain anything.
We only lose precious time.
Not long ago, my body gave me a little gift.
I awoke suddenly one night with a smarting pain in the body. No matter how I fidgeted and adjusted, the hurt in my lower back only intensified.
The best way I can describe the discomfort compares to having a doctor insert a three-inch hypodermic needle just to the left of the spine, exactly where the kidney sits. Occasionally, just for fun, the doc then twists the needle in a slow, clockwise motion.
The pain literally nauseated me.
Never before had I experienced such an inescapable ache.
The most frightful part was I had no idea what was happening.
We fear what we think may happen in the world we see.
But the world we don’t see is the source of our real fears. Our spiritual lives hold the solution to it.
That’s what happened with Jacob.
Returning to the land of Canaan forced Jacob to face a problem he had run from 20 years earlier—his deception of his brother Esau. As he approached the border of Canaan, angels of God came to meet him.
The presence of the angels gives us a critical reminder during our times of fear.
I’ll never forget the day a Christian woman in our church asked me to perform her wedding ceremony.
After some conversation, I discovered her fiance wasn’t a Christian.
(Photo by gcardinal from Norway, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
“Why would you marry an unbeliever,” I asked her, “when God’s Word says you can’t?”
“Well, I prayed about it,” she answered, “and I feel like it’s okay.”
“You didn’t need to pray. You can be certain it isn’t God’s will.”
It was a short conversation.
God’s will for you will never contradict God’s Word. You don’t even need to pray about it. (Tweet that.)
Years ago, my grandmother’s 1909 house got a fresh layer of wallpaper.
But only weeks later, I noticed in a high corner the wallpaper had buckled, and in some places, it had even split.
(My grandmother’s house, built in 1909)
When I asked her about it she said: “Oh, the house needs foundation work. Every time the seasons change and the wind blows a different direction, the whole house shifts.”
That made sense. For years I shaved inches off most of the doors trying to get them to close. But the repair only lasted until the wind shifted again.
Look closely at the lives of your friends and family. Maybe even your own life.
You’ll see this old house’s problem in vivid display.
Early one morning I hopped in my car and inserted the key in the ignition. When I cranked it—I kid you not—the car made the sound: “Ugh.”
So I figured it was just the weather, and I pulled out the jumper cables. But two days later, the car sang the second verse of the same song: “Ugghhh.”
(Photo: by Monkey Business Images via Vivozoom )
Later that day, my auto mechanic gave a simple diagnosis: I needed a new battery.
Now, I could have said: “Hey, you know, a car starting every other day isn’t so bad. It sure beats walking. I guess I don’t need a battery.”
Guess again. I bought a battery—a big one. If my vehicle runs inconsistently, it’s of little value to me. At the same time, keeping the car running reliably comes down to one thing: it costs me.
The same is true of our spiritual lives.