Andrew, a cabinetmaker to the core, is a creative genius. I've had the good fortune of working with him in his wood shop lately, and what a treat it is. His current engagement is a houseful of cabinets for a beautiful new farmhouse.
I used to get impatient with Andrew's perfectionism in his work, but the more I work along side him, the more I realize how important - prodigious - it is to get everything just right. If people knew how much foresight - preliminary drawing, meeting, thinking - and talent was involved in their 'heart of the home,' they'd wonder at how a cabinet maker could part with a piece he's invested such thought and soul in. I'm always in such a rush, wanting to see the end product. The pretty part. No one's going to see what's under it all, so why does it matter if we sand the inside? Why do we only plane a thirty-second of an inch off, when our goal is to make it a half an inch thinner? Can't we just burn 'em all through once and get it over with? These are a few of the questions I plague Andrew with. Sending those 100+ pieces through the sander multiple times bores me. By the way, are all those screws really necessary?
And then I recognize the parallel -- this is just like my life. I spend so much time in front of the mirror primping and curling and crimping and pulling...but what about the inside? I know I don't want to walk out of the house looking like I just rolled out of bed (there's nothing scarier, just ask anyone who's seen my bed head), so I prioritize LOOKING good before I head off to wherever it is I'm going. But what about BEING good? The condition of my heart will outweigh the condition of my wardrobe if I meet a homeless person who doesn't track current trends (my bed head being the exception here. I'm pretty sure anyone would turn tail and run if they were exposed to that).
Yesterday at Bible Study Fellowship the teaching leader spoke on contentment. We're studying the life of Moses this year, and we've arrived at the point where the Israelites begin their complaining. Bitter water, no food, no water again... It hit me with the hammer of conviction. The whining of these former slaves started a mere three days after God had PARTED THE RED SEA, and it's so easy for me to mock them. But my faith in God is usually that conditional, too. As long as I can see His hand, I'm fine. But as soon as He allows trials in my life, I panic. I become discontented. I grumble. I doubt.
The advice I was given - a grand piece in the puzzle of our contentment - is to list five things you're thankful for each morning while you spend time with God. Today I'm thankful for:
1) Coffee in the morning
2) Andrew's work
3) My buddy, Oliver
5) My sister, Anna, who's home for the weekend!
"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:7