Thousands of board feet of lumber lay jumbled together in lumberyard bins. Straight, sweeping, clear, and knotty, their character is similar, yet vastly different. Craftsmen from all backgrounds sift through the bins to select the proper stock for their masterpiece, evaluating ever so carefully each face and run.
The framer seeks a truckload of boards to support a structure behind the scenes, and is not too concerned with selecting perfect boards. He knows that planning, shaping, and joining together with other boards will create something structurally sound and beautiful in its own way.
The finish carpenter takes much more time sorting through the bin, with the goal of finding boards as close to perfect as possible. These boards will create a marvel for all who pass by the finished product, staring in amazement at what has been created. Boards that are less than perfect will end up in the scrap bin or the burn pile.
Here’s a piece of inside knowledge-there is no such thing as a perfect board. It doesn’t matter if the highest quality tree seedling is planted in the best soil in a state of the art greenhouse-the tree won’t be perfect. The lumber milled from the tree won’t be perfect. Sure, the rings may be tighter, the knots may be smaller and at more desirable angles, and the board may be cut to the exact specification, but they still fall short of perfection. Every time. Bet the farm on it. This all goes back to Genesis, when Adam and Eve chose sin over God’s perfect world and created a chasm between man and God, introducing toil to the lives of each created being and their respective environment (Genesis 3).
Friends, we have much in common with these lumberyard pieces. None of us are perfect, no matter what we may look like on the outside. Our knots—wounds that run DEEP, are there. Even when hidden to the outside by new growth, the knots persist. They can’t be undone. Perhaps a wound from a situation still leaves us hurting to this day. Perhaps we chose to lean a certain way to capture more of a light source as we were growing, just as a tree might, and we now aren’t quite as straight as when we started our growth. The evidence is there when examined. Look into your heart, and your own life, and tell me that the knots and scars aren’t there. What? No response? Precisely the point.
Don’t lose heart, fellow imperfect board! You see, there is this Carpenter, who has been waiting for us to surrender to His control. He knows how knotty and deformed we are before he ever reaches into the bin, and chooses us anyhow. No longer are we destined for the scrap bin or burn pile, the Carpenter sees the potential and begins to work us into His masterpiece.
This one is smooth and clear on the outside, it will work well for a face board. This one is a bit crooked, but very strong—this will work great in a support wall for the Temple. This one is perfect to span a great distance for a roof. Each one of us possess qualities not shared with anyone else.
The Carpenter knows that there are no perfect boards laying in lumberyard bins here on Earth, but that doesn’t stop Him from choosing us. His work to perfect our imperfections show His skill. His talent. His love. He sees the end result, and crafts each board precisely as needed for His purpose.
Some of us need to be run through a planer to be smoothed, others need to be trimmed so that our ends are square. Some need to be braced and put under pressure to straighten and remove years of pressure from another side. We know we’re dirty, broken, stained and scarred, but His love is stronger than our imperfections.
We’re all part of a structure whose beauty we can’t fathom, formed of imperfect boards joined together by the Master. Rough, hand-hewn beams weathered from years of exposure, joined together with masterful mortise and tenon joints to support the load of the structure. Beautiful boards finely finished to bring out the beauty within. Gnarly stud boards holding up walls behind the scenes. Everyone who surrenders is a part of this masterpiece.
This is bigger and you and me, or anything we could fix. So why do we still labor in vain? None of us are perfect, no matter our position in life. No matter where we live, what we drive, or what we wear. We’re all busted on the inside. Let the planer smooth our imperfections, and be joined together with boards that look similar, and those who look different. Surrender to the call. The Carpenter is building a Masterpiece. Won’t you come be a part of it?
Isaiah 43:18-19, ESV. “Remember not the former things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”