My dad was a carpenter. In fact, I come from a long line of carpenters. One of my brothers was a carpenter for many years, before he retired, and even taught carpentry to young apprentices. One of my grandpas was a carpenter, too. I grew up around guys who were able to build things, use tools to create new homes, and refurbish and remodel old houses. I didn’t get the carpenter gene in my DNA, I guess, because I’m not very good at building stuff. I can get by, but I’m not very good.
I have an endearing memory of one summer when I was working with my dad, building a new house. I only had a few weeks at home, before I went back to college, but I was thankful for the opportunity to work with my dad, make some money, and hopefully learn some stuff about carpentry while I was at it.
One day that summer, my dad was trimming out the molding in the kitchen, above the cabinets. He was a very good finish carpenter, and while I was busily installing hardware for the kitchen cabinets, putting nobs on doors and handles on drawers, out of the corner of my eye, I watched my dad measuring beautiful crown molding, cutting it with incredible precision, and nailing it in place, piece by piece, being careful to never leave a hammer mark. He wasn’t in a hurry. He was deliberate, and specific, and I guess you could say ‘intentional.’
He continued working his way around the room, very methodically. Measuring, cutting, carefully nailing the crown molding into place. As he neared the completion of his task, it became obvious that the very last piece of trim he would need to install — the final corner piece — would demand some ‘creative’ woodwork, I guess you could say. The final gap in the corner was about ten inches long. But because of the configuration of the cabinets and the shape of the room and its odd corner, that ten-inch piece of wood trim had several odd angles that would need to be accommodated. Over and over I watched my dad, take the piece of trim and hold it up, like some piece of a complex puzzle, to test it for shape and fit.
More cutting, trimming, sanding. Then, hold it up again to examine the shape, the angles. He understood the importance of beautiful trim work in a custom home. This final piece could not be nailed, for fear the nail would split the small piece of wood and all the measuring and cutting and sanding would be for naught. No. This final piece would have to be glued into place, and would have to be a perfect fit … the very first time. No room for error. No chance to take it from its intended place.
Finally, finished. He had sanded and trimmed, and even took out his pocket knife and whittled a micro-shaving from one side of the custom-fashioned block of wood. Now, he slathered some instant bonding glue on the sides and back of the wood, and carefully — oh, so carefully — he gingerly placed the final piece of crown molding into the corner, holding it with his hand until he was absolutely certain it would remain there, and never come down.
After he had held the molding in place for several seconds, he dismounted his short ladder, and stood in the very center of the room, gazing at his work. A perfect joint; a virtually seamless fit.
I said, “Man, dad. That looks great. Really beautiful.”
With a certain ‘knowing’ in his eye, I think — a look of supreme accomplishment, and confidence, even joy, he answered me.
He said, “I’m not too sure, but I think what I just now did was … impossible.”
We both spent the next several moments in hilarious laughter. Impossible. Yes. It was impossible, and yet, the puzzle piece fit, glued in place, never to come down again.
I know the story of another Carpenter, faced with an impossible challenge. The Household of Faith needed to be built. Nails gathered to fasten flesh in place. A crown, molded to a Royal Head, and held secure by that thorny glue. A seamless and only way for sinful man to know a Loving and Perfect God.
I stand amazed, looking back at my life, and what Christ has done for me, I do not doubt; I’m absolutely sure: What Jesus did for me was more than amazing. He did … the impossible.