Over the past month or so, an amazing thing has happened a few miles down the road from us. What was once a pasture is now becoming a house. This is certainly not earth shattering news by any means. What is significant is that for the most part, this house is being custom built by ONE MAN. I go by this house almost every day and am utterly amazed at what one man with a small tractor can accomplish. Most days this man is there working alone building this house. Occasionally he does need help, but only one day per week at the most.
I am used to seeing house building crews "throw up" a house in a matter of months or even weeks. I am not used to seeing one person build a house. To be honest, I have made a special trip a couple of times to view the progress made on this house when I haven't had any business take me by it for a few days. I am intrigued, amazed and captivated by this project. One day, when the time is right, I will stop and get the full story behind this house. But until then, I will enjoy watching what a single man can accomplish if he knows what he is doing and sticks with the job faithfully until it is completed.
I have thought of a multitude of things as I have watched this house being built. I have often thought of Noah and the 70 to 80 years it must have taken him to build the ark. I am sure there were plenty of days when he didn't want to go work on that odd thing no one had ever seen before. It had never rained on earth. The idea of building a boat provided a constant source of entertainment to the scoffers in Noah's time. Noah did not let their ridicule deter him. He did not let the amount of time it took to build the ark discourage him. He hid not let sore muscles and other physical pain stop him. He had a job to do and he did it.
I have thought of King Solomon and the building of the temple as I have watched this house take shape. Without a blueprint, the temple would have never been the ornate and incredible building that it was. Years ago I tried to build a doghouse for our two dogs. The notion of drawing up plans ahead of time was silly to me at the time. I had never built anything in my life. I figured you just nail some boards together and presto a nice looking doghouse would appear.
After rounding up some scrap lumber, I diligently started my project. I worked all day and late in the afternoon I told my wife it was time to see the 1988 version of Solomon's temple. I will never forget how she tried so hard not to laugh; but she could not resist. My "temple" looked like a crooked box with gaps in the walls and roof and a door big enough for me to fit through.
I figured Mrs. Noah must have laughed when she first saw the ark Noah had built. So, it didn't matter what others thought, it was the two dogs opinion that counted. Neither dog would go in the thing. Whether they were ashamed or afraid, I do not know. All I know is that somewhere there is a picture of me inside my "doghouse" and the two dogs outside laughing hilariously. Being totally humiliated, I destroyed in a few minutes what had taken me all day to "build". I did learn that you must have a plan to ever build anything right.
Somebody spent hours upon hours planning the house down the road. The man building it didn't just go to the store and buy a bunch of lumber and start nailing boards together. He is building the house using a blueprint. There is no other way to properly build a house. When you look in I Kings chapters 6 and 7, you see the intricate detail of the blueprint for God's temple. Earlier in the Bible the same kind of attention to detail can be found in the blueprint for God's tabernacle.
When God wants something built, He leaves nothing to whim or chance; He lays out the details so that the end result will be a glory to Him. There are no pictures of Moses in a crooked funny looking place with the children of Israel laughing at what he built. There are no pictures of Solomon alone in a giant edifice that is about to cave in and all Israel outside laughing hysterically. When God does something, He does it right and He does it right the first time.
Before we moved into our current home a few years ago, we had to have a room addition built for my elderly mother whom I took care of. What was supposed to take a month or less to build took 4 months, and never was totally finished. I did learn the difference between a contractor and a builder. Our contractor's idea of a blueprint was some figures scribbled on a sheet of notebook paper. Although the room turned out fine and looks very nice; the amount of extra work and extra time necessary to re-do many things was very frustrating.
Efficiency and quality are trademarks of good craftsmanship. The person who is building the house down the road is incredibly efficient (for he is doing most of the work himself), and the materials and work are both of excellent quality. He is using an excellent blueprint, has the credentials to do the work correctly, has purchased quality materials and has stuck with the job doing what he can each and every day.
Could a crew of house builders built this house faster? Of course, in fact the house would probably be done by now. Would it have cost more? Of course it would, for a whole crew would have to be paid. Would the quality have been a good? Probably not, for with each additional person doing the work, the risk of sloppy workmanship increases dramatically. I have seen crews who are only interested in erecting a house in the shortest time and for the least cost. Corners are cut constantly and compromises are made in materials throughout the house.
My mother-in-law lives in house built in the 1700's in Pennsylvania. How many homes built today would still be standing 250 years from now? How many of the cookie-cutter tract houses that fill up subdivision after subdivision will still be around 50 years from now? Do something right the first time and it will stand the test of time. Cut corners and compromise quality at the beginning and failure is assured. This holds true for building a house or living life. As tempting as compromise sounds and looks at times, it is never worth it in the long run.
Jesus spoke of house building a couple of times. He said if you build your house on the sand, the storms will come and knock it down. But, if you build on the rock, the house will stand. Jesus also spoke the parable dealing with running out of money before finishing the building project. One must count the cost beforehand so as to have enough to complete what was started.
I look forward to watching "my house" as it progresses from a dream to a finished reality. It is truly amazing to witness what can be done when someone who knows what they are doing does something correctly right from the start. It is truly amazing to witness what can be done by one person who is not so rushed as to consider compromising quality for quantity.
When I was 20 years old I had the privilege of learning how to work from a man named George Jess. He taught me how to correctly dig a ditch. I learned how the job can either be backbreaking and a source of frustration and cursing, or a simple joy to perform. The person who seeks to dig the ditch as fast as he can will grow tired quickly and will usually quit in anger and frustration. The person who slowly but surely takes his time and gets in a good rhythm will finish the job (although it will take longer), it will be done right and he will not be worn out.
As we go about building what we do for God in this life, may we learn from Noah, Solomon and Mr. Jess the lessons of what it takes to succeed. May we learn to have a good plan, take the time to do it right and never compromise quality for quantity. May we also learn from my mistakes and never build such a worthless edifice that it's only worth is fodder for late night comedians. Always remember that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing RIGHT the first time.