Walking With the Carpenter

I love wood.  I was raised around pine and fir and the sweet sounds of a table saw making a precise cut through a piece of plywood.  The smell of the forest is as inviting as a warm blanket.  Most of the men on my mom’s side and some of the women make or have made their living from working in paper mills (sourced by trees).  I adore the hunt for and basking in the greatness of rare giant sequoias in our Northwest community.  A piece of well made wooden furniture seems to me almost alive in texture and grain.  At the heart of the nature and industry of my existence is wood.

What a strange introduction!   It sounds funny when I read it back to myself.  

I’ve known Jesus as several people, Jesus the baby, the resurrected King, the Son of God, the Lion of Judah, Comforter, the Son of Man. How strange also that in my 40 plus years, I’ve never related to him as Jesus the carpenter.  These last few weeks however, I am learning from Jesus the carpenter.

For the last two months I’ve worked in a job I never thought I would do.  It is HARD, the hours long and exhausting.  The labor is manual.  My brain is so focused on the mundane, the more intellectual tasks I crave to work on are eternally being shoved to the back burner.  The work does not come naturally to me.  I feel less than a novice at times, a novice at best during others.  I repeatedly am in places where I need to ask for help, from both God and my human companions.  

While every Jesus I’ve related to has been a friend to me, the Jesus I needed as my friend during this time was not one of them.  Enter Jesus the carpenter.  

Joseph was a carpenter, and our Jesus learned from him as all children do from their parents, as a toddler wobbling to his earthly dad’s workroom and touching chunks of wood, getting slivers in his dusty palm, wood dust in his eyes.  He grew in wisdom and stature and I am certain these playtimes led to more meaningful responsibilities as he grew to apprentice under Joseph. 

We know sometime between Jesus’ 12th and 30th year, Joseph passed away.  This left Jesus the oldest male and caretaker for his family.  Can you imagine?  You are the Son of God and suddenly the responsibility of caring for your family is placed upon your shoulders.  What would I say? “But God, this is not what I am called to.  I am the maker of trees and you want me to make things out of them to feed my earthly family?  I have a ministry to fulfill!”

He did it though.  I am sure that the 100% man part of him was fuming at times, having to barter with customers, hearing complaints, trying not to beam with self adoring pride when he got compliments on his craftsmanship.  He could have wallowed in self pity and remained a carpenter until death, but instead he grew in wisdom and stature.  I am not sure how that happened but I can imagine: Jesus in his workshop talking to God, singing hymns, memorizing scripture.  Jesus chiseling the leg of a table praying for people passing by his shop, taking time to talk to a customer and really get to know him.  Learning the wisdom of patience and love in day to day existence.  Learning how to do something better the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time.  Being teachable.

That’s where I am right now.  I am trying to be teachable.  It’s so hard.  It’s so humbling.  But, if I am to learn from the carpenter, the one whose ability was scorned beyond his career by his townspeople, “Is this not the carpenter…and they took offense at him.”  Mark 6:3 and  “No prophet is welcome in his hometown.”  Luke 4:24, then I MUST be teachable and humble.

This is a season.  I don’t know for how long, but I know the carpenter walks by my side, the same one who said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  I stand on that truth, for as long as it takes.