a screw loose?

So we managed to survive the transfer of the Essex box fort to become the Devon box fort! The removal men were really good and it was surprisingly swift. I would say that it was at the lower end of possible stress levels for a move, although we’re both really tired now.

Most rooms still have residual boxes in them, and please don’t look in the garage, but we have managed to find most of the important things (eventually). I took apart my desk before the move and put the eight screws in a safe place. I put almost all the important screws in a compartment in my tool box. But of course, for reasons I can’t remember, I didn’t put the desk screws in that compartment. I have unpacked all of the likely boxes, all of the unlikely but still possible ones, and looked in all the drawers in my study units.

Nope.

In the garage in our new manse there are some jars of screws, bolts, nuts, washers, nails and other useful bits and pieces hanging by their lids that are screwed into a shelf above (see below). These were left by the previous occupants, but have the look of something that has been a fixture here for many years. I had a rummage in the relevant jar and managed to find four that fitted so that I could reattach the keyboard shelf. However there was nothing to match the other four. Some were the right width and thread, but too long. Others were the right length but the wrong thread. In the end a visit to the local DIY superstore enabled me to find some that were just right. (Is it just me or does this sound a bit like a DIY version of Goldilocks and the 3 bears!)

So, in the end the desk is not complete, most books are on the shelves and my workspace is usable.

Why am I telling you this innocuous story? Well, little things can make a big difference. Compared to the rest of the desk eight screws don’t really look much. But without them the desk was not as useful as it now is. You may not think you are significant, but you matter. You are useful.

In the New Testament there’s a tiny little letter that Paul wrote to a friend of his called Phil (okay, Philemon, but give me credit for trying to be contemporary). Phil had a slave (different times) called Onesie (Onesimus) who ran away. You can’t blame Onesie for seeking his freedom. But he bumped into Paul, who suggested that he should go back to Phil’s house, and he wrote him a letter to take back and explain that there were new circumstances (Onesie had become a follower of Jesus).

It seems that Onesie had not been a particularly good slave. But Paul wrote in the letter, “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.” Onesie’s full name actually means ‘useful’ (ironically).

And that’s the point I am trying to make. Onesie was regarded as useless, but Paul saw his potential and how he could live up to his name.

Be blessed, be a blessing

move over Bob the Builder

2015-09-28 11.25.34I have acquired a new skill. I am now a construction engineer, having built a building. Those who know me well will be somewhat surprised that I have acquired this new skill and hopefully impressed at the results. (The picture of the shed here is the said construction).

Of course my construction engineer skills and qualifications are a bit ropey. I had to follow a set of instructions that came with the components for the shed that had been delivered to our house. At times the instructions weren’t as clear as they could have been, sometimes the components didn’t fit together quite as well as they should have, and in a couple of occasions I had to improvise. However at the end of the process there is a small shed in our back garden that has not fallen down (yet). And I have a sense of accomplishment (and perhaps a little bit of pride – not too much, just enough to allow for a little ostentatious humility when people compliment me on it).

If I had not had the components premade and the instructions to try to follow there is no way that I would have managed to build a shed that was anywhere near the quality of the building that now graces our back garden. I did once build a bin store from scratch, although that did involve buying a premade fence panel, cutting it down and rebuilding it before putting the corrugated plastic roof on so, on reflection, even then not everything was built from scratch.

There are some people who have the skills, experience, talent, vision and desire to design and construct things from scratch. Most of us need a little help (or a lot!) and simply stand back in admiration and all at what these people create. We are happy with what we are able to do with our limited abilities and premade components but we know that it pales into insignificance next to a real artisan’s work.

But that does not mean we are untalented. It just means that our talents don’t lie in that area. We all have gifts and talents (some of us have yet to discover or fully explore them) and it’s a good thing that we all have different ones. After all if everybody was a Master Joiner we might have some amazing furniture and buildings but if nobody was able to work with metal we would not have cars, aeroplanes, washing machines and so on… If everybody was good at making cakes but nobody could cook anything else the current obesity problem would seem insignificant.

You might think that you got any gifts and talents but the Bible disagrees. Included in lists of spiritual gifts are things like hospitality, administration, caring for others, and encouraging. The apostle Paul says that love is greater than any spiritual gift.

Never look down on yourself or consider yourself less worthy than others (whilst maintaining a healthy humility). God’s Spirit is developing your character to bear fruit that lasts and makes a real difference. When we follow Jesus Christ his Spirit is working with us and within us to help us to become the best we possibly can be: the person God created us to become. God does not make mistakes and he wants to take your gifts and talents and skills and personality and experience and use them, enhance them (and perhaps even give you new ones) in order that you might be blessed and be a blessing.

And he wants to add all that you are and all that you are becoming to those around you so that your gifts and skills will blend with theirs to multiply the blessing further. Are you up for that?

Be blessed, be a blessing.