I shared this story with my youth group at Sunday School last Sunday. It went along with the theme of the lesson - "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" - and with our key verse for the day - Romans 8:28 ... "And we know that God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
This story really touches my heart ... I almost cried in front of my kids when I read it to them. Who knows? I might cry by the time I get it all typed out here. :)
The Carpenter's Gift
Grandpa Nybakken loved life, especially, when he could play a trick on somebody. At those time, his large Norwegian frame would shake with laughter while he feigned innocent surprise, exclaiming, "Oh, forevermore!" But on a cold Saturday in downtown Chicago, God played a trick on him.
Grandpa Nybakken worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he volunteered to build some crates to hold the clothes his church was sending to an orphanage in China. When he finished building the crates, he helped pack them full of clothing and load them on the trucks that would take them to the shipping docks. He felt good that he could contribute to the project, even in a small way.
On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses. They were gone. He mentally replayed his earlier actions and realized what had happened. The glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates. His brand new glasses were heading for China!
The old carpenter had very little money, certainly not enough to replace the glasses. He was upset at the thought of having to buy another pair. "It's not fair," he told God as he drove home in frustration. "I've been very faithful in giving of my time to your work, and now this happens."
Several months later, the director of the Chinese orphanage came to speak at the old carpenter's small church. He began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage. "But most of all," he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way to replace those glasses. My coworkers and I were much in prayer about the situation. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed one of the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top."
The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued, "Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as thought they had been custom-made for me! I want to thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity."
The congregation listened, pleased about the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no eyeglasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.
But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, was an ordinary carpenter who on an ordinary day was used in an extraordinary way by the Master Carpenter Himself.
Oh! Isn't that just amazing!? Wow. I just love this story. It really helps remind me that GOD is at work ALL THE TIME! In those bummer situations ... during all those times that I failed the Praxis, in these 2 years that I've been working with the youth at Calvary and working other jobs here and there, wondering what the heck God is doing ... Wow. This story helps remind me that GOD is working in these situations in my life - I just don't know what He's doing. But I'm holding on to this story and claiming it as a PROMISE in my own life - that GOD is doing something big in the midst of my bummers. And He's doing it in YOUR life too! How incredible. Thank you, Jesus, for the ordinary carpenter's story.