Spiritual D.I.Y.?

I am so proud of myself I could just about burst. Last Saturday I decided I would design and build a genuine miniature stable for our Nativity figurines to hang out in. We got these pieces – consisting of three wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus after Christmas last year when they were on sale at Hobby Lobby. They are made of a resin-like material and painted realistically to resemble what we imagine all those folks might have looked like. One of the wise men is even black, consistent with the folklore about Balthazar.

The tallest of the figures – Joseph – is 27 inches tall, and so my plans called for the roof of the stable to be at least 48 inches at its highest point. I will tell you, it really turned out to be quite a serviceable work. I drew the plans up, made measurements, went to Lowe’s for the lumber and hardware (the walls are hinged for easy take down and set up), and then went to work. I do not have a power saw, so all of the wood cutting was done with my hand saw. But after about three hours of sawing, measuring, nailing and labor, there it was… my masterpiece. (Maybe I will add a photo to this post tomorrow).

But here is the point where a little spiritualish reflection sneaks into the story; this was a project I could envision and tackle by myself. Even given my remedial carpentry skills and lack of a power saw. The task of finishing my unfinished basement, on the other hand, is another story completely. I look at it and ponder the plumbing, sheetrocking, electrical wiring, HVACing, carpet and/or tile laying and say more or less immediately, “No way. No how. I’m gonna have to hire some help.”

So how is it that you and I cannot seem to muster the same kind of healthy respect for the task of the renovation of our hearts (to use a Dallas Willard category) that we do for the renovation of our basements? Surely not because we consider the project to be the same kind of rudimentary job as building a miniature stable? Is there really much sense to the proposition that we, using our own insights and tools and skills, will easily jump right in, nail a few boards together, and come away with hearts and minds that reflect the depth and majesty that they were created for? I kind of think not, speaking entirely for myself. Some of you may be a whole lot more spiritually astute, but I need outside help. I need resources. I need the expertise and the perspective of folks that know a lot more than I do. I need the timeless wisdom of guidebooks like the Holy Bible. I need instruction from people who have walked this way and stand ready to help me see all of the ruts and potholes along the way.

In other words, I need a carpenter. Or else a carpenter’s Son. And so do YOU!

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