Monday, February 16, 2009

There Is A Time For Everything…

What a wonderful group of verses from Ecclesiastes. It had special meaning for me this past Friday. It continues…

“…and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”

We moved into our Leiper’s Fork TN home in the spring of 2003. The builder hired a group of stone masons to create some wonderful dry stacked stone features around the house. A couple of beautiful floor to ceiling stone fireplaces, a massive stone chimney, and a good portion of the front of the house with a stone wall.

The results of all that stone work, besides the beautiful architectural structures created, lay in piles down by the creek. Mounds and mounds of stone shards and pieces, some piles three feet high, discarded at the creek’s edge. They were the bits and pieces left over as large stones were chipped and shaved to fit just right without grout or mortar. The massive weight of the stones that fit together perfectly create the stability and strength to support each additional stone above.

One of my favorite parts of the stone work is the keystone’s in each of the fireplaces. Loose stones held up by hand in an arch while the master stone mason fits in the keystone (the architectural piece at the crown of an arch which marks its apex, locking the other pieces into position).

Several years ago I found a discarded stone shard half buried in the yard. I was on lawn prep duty the summer after we moved in to remove all the rocks and stones I was hitting with my lawn mower. There was something about it that struck me. It was amazingly well formed, having been chipped away from a larger stone and breaking off in an almost perfect angles. It was a bit larger than an iPod shuffle, and almost as smooth on five of the six surfaces.

I stuck it in my pocket, and later set it down on the brick retaining wall on our back porch.

There it sat for almost six years. I remember seeing it every once in awhile, picking it up and feeling its smooth surface, and then setting it back down. If we had a pond I would have tried to skip it on the water.

A few weeks ago Michelle and I hired by brother-in-law Josh to do some work around our house. Little things have been slowly breaking, chipping or falling apart. We also had a nasty leak in a pipe running down between our closet wall in the master bedroom and the drywall was soft and wet. Time for some fix-it work.

Josh and I walked the house, inside and out, and wrote down every little thing that had to be worked on. Paint chips, dry-wall cracks, loose crown molding, doors that didn’t close properly, window and bathtub caulking, and much more. Amongst the long list was grout/mortar repair work on our front stone stairway.

The stone repair work was the last thing Josh worked on. He found some grout that was close to the original color and set about filling in all the old grout that had disintegrated and fallen away. He did a great job and it looked wonderful except for one spot. At the very top of the stone stairs, in the corner, was a gap where the grout had fallen out. I asked Josh to fill it in, but he said it wouldn’t stay. The gap was too wide and deep, and there was nothing there to support it. He could put some in, but guessed it would come out within a few weeks or months.

He said if I had a rock or something that would fit in there he could make it work, but doubted we would find just the right size and shaped rock to fit in the gap.

It hit me. While I hadn’t seen or touched that stone on the back porch in a year or two, it came to me in an instant. My memory of what it looked like seemed to match the gap in the stairway. I told Josh I might just have the right thing and went out back to get the stone.

I handed it to him and he gently fit it into the gap. If a jeweler had custom cut that rock to fit the gap with diamond cutting instruments it would not have fit better but for a tad bit of extra length. It fit the width and the height perfectly, and blended into the color scheme of the rocks on the stairway- which are slightly different than the rest of the stonework around the house.

The job was done, and I couldn’t help but think about that little bit of discarded stone. Thrown away by a master craftsman because it was useless in his eyes, and picked up by someone else and held, waiting, until the just the right time.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1 quoted above, there is a line in verse 5: "a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them."

As this world seems to crumble and press around us, as we wonder if tomorrow will find us without a job or income, and in some cases, a home, how wonderful it is to know that God has a place for us. A use, in his time. And if we are willing to surrender to Him, to allow Him to fulfill His plan for us, we may find that we fill the gap or complete the work in someone else’s life to His glory.