David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished (1 Chronicles 28:20 TNIV).
I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4).
Autumn in the Appalachians is my husband's idea of heaven on earth. Sam is in his element in Autumn. It makes me chilly just thinking about it. I prefer mid-spring with its warmth and new life. And while I appreciate the wonders of God's natural world, I also prize the movement and wonder of a colossal city.
I have deep respect for people who design and build all sorts of things — my husband chief among those I respect. How do they keep slabs of stone from collapsing before the keystone is inserted? How does the Eiffel Tower appear to be gracefully curved when every single one of its girders is straight? I might know the "book answers," but these questions still boggle my mind.
In college, I took a class on interpersonal skills called, "Building Bridges Not Walls." In our first experiential learning exercise, we were placed in teams of four and assigned the task of building a bridge. Each team was given an assortment of office supplies — pencils, sticky notes, paperclips, etc. — with which to create the structure. As far as our team went, there was not an engineer among us, but what we lacked in knowledge we made up in enthusiasm. In high school, we were probably the same kids whose inflated math egos didn't correlate with the academic scores we earned in the standardized testing arena. We didn't so much build a bridge as we fashioned or even decorated a bridge. It was heavy on form and light on function. "Interesting" was how the instructor diplomatically termed it — just before it collapsed.
Later on in life, during a trip to New York, I tilted my head and looked up, and up and up, as my eyes traced the lines of the skyscrapers. I thought to myself, "No wonder it's easier to find Jesus in the natural landscapes of home than it seems to be in the city. In the country, you behold what God created; in the city, you behold what humans have created. And if you didn't know that Almighty God had endowed these mortals with the intelligence and skill to make their endeavors possible, then humanism and human hubris just might make sense."
Some of our children are gifted with a builder's hands or an engineer's mind. We need to give them the opportunity and the encouragement to explore and use those gifts. In a recent "Popular Mechanics" article, Jay Leno wrote about a young man who in 1931, at age seventeen, built a three-wheeled coupe powered by a 77.2 cu. in. four cylinder Indian Motorcycle Engine (like I know what that means). He did this because his father told him that if he wanted a car, then he had to build it. Jay decided to see what boys in the 1930's were up to. The editors of "Popular Mechanics" sent him a copy of "The Boy Mechanic", which was aimed at boys age 8 and up. When Jay looked at the projects, he came to the conclusion that the boys of today wouldn't be able to build them because now boys sit in front of screens instead of work with their hands.
I don't completely agree with Jay. It is true many youngsters spend too much time on video games and computers, but I still bet some of our kids could construct those projects. If you have such a child, I hope you don't overly fret if that child doesn't seem "academic enough"; if he or she would rather spend the day hammering more than conjugating, fabricating more than spelling, and measuring more than writing, then find ways to encourage the use of those gifts responsibly. Pray that your child will find a way to use those interests to honor God. They may just be like Bezalel — gifted to live "in the Shadow of God" and build to his glory.
As for Sam and me, we'll appreciate the splendor of it all together — autumn and spring, mountains and cities, God-made and mortal-made. We recognize that when people design and create, whether they realize it or not, that ability has been bestowed on them by our heavenly Father, the Master Builder of it all.