The carpenter hefted his hammer in his hand. It was such a familiar feeling—yet, somehow, the memories, while playing more vividly in his mind than the usual faint feelings and impressions, had the quality of a well-worn tale rather than yesterday’s news. “Odd,” he thought. “Wasn’t it just yesterday that I finished that job for Uncle Pete down on Fourteenth Street?”
He shook his head as if to scare away one of the pesky house flies that had a connoisseur’s taste for the bald spot on the tip-top of his head surrounded by fine blond hair. He knew it was really white, but he wouldn’t admit that to his family. “Those flies probably think they are on top of some snow-capped mountain,” he smirked to himself as he whistled the last few steps to the new job site. He was excited to get back to work. Strangely excited, he thought. He loved his work, he loved to use his mind and hands to build. He was maybe just a little bit biased, but somehow he thought that being a carpenter brought him that much closer to the Jesus who he tried so hard to serve. Still—somehow building this house seemed so much more personal than anything he’d remembered before—but he really didn’t know why.
He stepped into the driveway and gazed over the well-laid foundation to the garden in the back yard bursting with color of every kind of flower he’d ever heard of. Were there some new ones in there? “Now there’s a man who’s close to my heart!” he exclaimed, and smiled at the familiarity of the garden. His glance lifted over the garden, onto the lush green rolling fields behind it, down the embankment and through a thickening forest to a wide valley with a serene and peaceful river flowing lazily westward. “Funny how much this guy’s new house feels like it’s home,” pondered the carpenter. The thought left his mind quickly as the thoughts of the job ahead of him filled his brain. He saw that the customers had been remarkably thoughtful—it looked like all of the wood and sheetrock and wires and pipes and siding and shingles and nails and windows and everything else he would need were already stacked neatly in the front lawn.
The work progressed quickly, far more quickly than most new houses he’d worked on. The other carpenter was a new recruit, but he was learning quickly and doing impressively good work. Studs and beams flew up, nails flew in, and, like Adam coming from the dust of the earth, a house rose from the firmly-laid foundation.
The carpenter was working like he had never worked before, and the house seemed to build itself more quickly any he had ever seen. Slowly, he became aware of the unusual job this was. He hadn’t been quite this strong yesterday, had he? Never before had he been able to hop over quite that much lumber. They were throwing beams across the full length of the house, jumping from one floor to the other, swinging in the rafters like children in a jungle gym. A smile spread across the aging carpenter’s face. This was more fun than he’d had in years!
Before the sun was even high in the sky, before hunger pains announced that it was time for lunch, the house was done. The carpenter looked in amazement at the beautiful house that had miraculously appeared. He’d built it—he remembered almost all of the nails the he put in—but he could hardly believe it! Where was that new guy, anyhow?
The new guy slowly walked up to him, a smile peeking out from underneath his baseball cap as a scarred hand reached to its brim. Dark eyes peered at him with a piercing twinkle. The man took off his cap, and gestured at the house. Off to the left, the old carpenter saw his wife—full of life, boucing down the street with a ten-mile smile. He turned back to see the new guy. Understanding came, and he heard words that filled his heart and his soul with a happiness that he had but ached for year after year:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”
© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle