In the past week, I have put together no less than twenty-eight pieces of furniture from IKEA. After I finish writing this blog-post, I will be driving to my new office space for the new church we are starting (Mission Street Church) and beginning the process of assembling ten more pieces of IKEA furniture.
If you aren't familiar with IKEA, IKEA is a Swedish furniture company (the big blue building with the yellow sign) that specializes in stylish and inexpensive furniture that you have to assemble yourself. And when I say assemble, I mean assemble. One box that I unpacked had no less than 120 different screws that had to be ordered and inserted into 120 different pre-cut holes in fiber-board. What I thought would take me a day or two has now taken over a week. It is a laborious, methodical, and painstaking process putting this furniture together. Sometimes it is joyful, sometimes it is frustrating - but always it is laborious and methodical and painstaking.
And so, as I have inserted these screws into these tiny holes I have asked myself - Why? Why, just prior to launching a new church, where there are zillions of other important tasks to complete, am I having to do this seemingly totally disconnected task of assembling furniture? And then it occurred to me. Perhaps, in some strange way, the task of putting furniture together is not entirely a waste. Perhaps this laborious, methodical, pain staking process is actually a helpful pre-cursor to the laborious, methodical, painstaking process of putting together a new church. Perhaps assembling furniture, piece by piece is not so different than assembling a church, piece by piece. If one screw is missing from a piece of furniture, then the furniture won't hold together. If one small tiny step in the process of building a new church is missed, the church won't function.
Perhaps building furniture is an - Unexpected Preparation - for building a church!
Not too long ago, I read a book about the great painter Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo's artistic masterpieces are well known to the entire world ("The Last Supper", "The Mona Lisa"). They are some of the most intricate, beautiful and valuable pieces of art in the entire world. What are some of the features that set Leonardo's paintings apart from so many others? It is the medical mastery that Da Vinci brings to his subject work. Each face that he paints is exactly anatomically correct. Each eye-ball that he traces reflects a deep understanding of ocular medical understanding. Now, it is possible that one could view all of the time that Da Vinci spent on medicine as ancillary to the act of painting. After all, painting and medicine could not seem more distant from one another as specialties. However, spending time on medicine and the human anatomy was, for Da Vinci, an:
The world is full of examples of people who applied very different skill sets to particular areas of focus and had incredible results. Here are a few prominent examples:
* The apostle Paul was a tent-maker by trade, before he was an evangelist. Tent-making (the business of putting together tents, piece by piece, the business practice of setting up shop and keeping accounts) is a very valuable skill for an evangelist. Tent-making was, for Paul, an:
* Jesus spent much of his youth in his father Joseph's carpentry shop. Even though Jesus' line of work wasn't exactly furniture making, and was more of what we would call being a "day-laborer" today, it was integral to his larger ministry later in his life. Jesus had many stories about building. The parable of the two builders is but one example. Carpentry was for Jesus, an:
* Franklin Roosevelt is widely considered to be one of our country's best presidents. About the middle of his life, Roosevelt contracted polio and lost the use of his legs for the rest of his life. Roosevelt had to dig down deep in his life to overcome the stigma and pain of his paraplegia. This inner strength would later hold him in good stead as President of the United States during one it's darkest hours. Polio was for Roosevelt, an:
* Abraham Lincoln, another great president, grew up in rural Illinois. When he was a boy, his home was so rough and small that it actually had a dirt floor. One of the only things that Lincoln could do to pass the time, since he owned only one book, was to tell stories and tell jokes. Lincoln was one of the best joke tellers in his entire town. People would come from miles around to here Lincoln tell stories and jokes. In a strange way, joke-telling became, for Lincoln, an:
Unexpected Preparation for the Presidency.
And the list goes on. Try to think of other examples of people who had to face one set of tasks which seemed totally disconnected from another set of tasks, but which were an integral and essential aspect of their ultimate success.
More to the point, perhaps you are in the midst of a particular task this morning which seems completely wasted, annoying and disconnected from what you really want to be doing. Perhaps you are paying bills, taking out the garbage, cleaning up dog poop in the backyard, driving your kids to soccer practice, appeasing your boss at work, when you would really like to be painting a masterpiece. Is it possible though, that what you are going through right now is an:
For something much larger and much more important that God has in store for you?
Back to my furniture building!
All For Now,