Sam Rayburn had a storied career in politics and a way with words. He served seventeen years as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Perhaps it was constant bickering he witnessed that gave rise to this snippet:
"Any jackass can knock down a barn, it takes a good carpenter to build one up."
Mr. Rayburn's words may sting the ears, but the truth echoes in the heart. It takes work to be a builder.
Today I'm grateful for all the skilled carpenters in my life. These are the men and women who use the level of common sense. When it comes to their words, they follow the carpenter's maxim, "Measure twice and cut once." They employ their hammers to build up and not tear down. They will cut through excuses and drill to the bottom of any problem. In short, they work hard building the house of God!
Paul knew a few donkeys and a whole lot of carpenters. I think that is true for most of us.
I see many people with my mind's eye as I write this piece. Let me tell you about one. He will remain unnamed but not because he stands on four legs. Quite the contrary! He is a skilled carpenter, a man whose ability to analyze systems, solve problems, and weave digital threads into automated gadgets is superseded by his willingness to invest countless hours in the next generation of young people in our church and school.
I am staying purposefully ambivalent, but he will recognize the quote and the broad outlines of his work I have sketched. Today he will stand for so many others to whom I would love to name and say, "My friend, you are a skilled carpenter for Jesus! Your kingdom craftsmanship is magnificent.
Years ago, Paul wrote a letter to some friends in Philippi. In it, he has this to say about his friend, the good carpenter Epaphroditus, So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men . . . . (Philippians 2:29 ESV)
Today donkeys will kick and barns will fall. But count on this: amid the dust and dirt and debris you will find skilled carpenters whose careful and diligent work are building it back up again. Thank them! Purpose to be one of them!