That’s how it is, right? Those of you hybrid-driving, eco-friendly, foreign-car-owning suburbanite friends of mine. You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. It’s getting to be that time. Almost moving day, and what do you start to think about? That’s right… “Who do I know with a TRUCK?” Let’s face it. Fahrvergnügen can’t help you move the sofa.
So a couple of years ago I found myself the proud owner of a nice three bedroom rambler in suburban Minneapolis. One of the reasons we loved the house was the wrap-around deck in the back. But we had lived in the house for several years, and the deck was showing its age. A few cracked boards, and a little too much bounce in the corner revealed that some of the frame had been built with untreated wood, and that wood was starting to crumble. It was one of those projects that I thought would begin and end on a Friday morning with one well-planned run to Home Depot. Not so much. As I began to pull out the soft wood, the more problems were revealed, and suddenly I had several pieces of the frame, a set of steps, half a dozen planks, about a third of the railing frame , and almost all of the railing spindles to replace.
At the time I owned a hammer, a worn out drill, one rechargeable electric screwdriver with no working battery, and a jar of miscellaneous small screws and finishing nails. I was like the anti-Bob Villa. I mean, don’t get me wrong… Other than the meager tool set, lack of a modeling career, the international acclaim, and any measurable skill in carpentry, Ty Pennington and I have a lot in common.
Let’s just say I needed back-up. So I have this friend Brandon. He’s got a pick up AND an air compressor. And nail guns. That’s right. Plural. And a sawzall. And talent. All things I didn’t have.
So Brandon was the guy to call. Also significant… he’s one of the greatest guys on the planet. For roughly the cost of lunch at Arby’s (maybe EXACTLY for the cost of lunch at Arby’s), Brandon basically spent one good Saturday – sun-up to sun-down – tearing apart, re-planning, and reconstructing our deck. He and I were able to do in one 12 hour period what would have taken me… I still wouldn’t be done with it. If it were up to me alone with my hammer and half-baked power drill, circa 1983, my poor family would still be coming in and out the front door, avoiding the sad half-torn-apart reminder of my few non-Ty Pennington-esque qualities that used to be our deck.
Come to think of it, I probably owe Brandon another Medium Roast Beef. WITH the curly fries this time.
Smash cut to me this morning at 5:04 AM. I find myself literally groaning out load as I roll out of bed. I’ve got 2 hours and 56 minutes until my Chapter 20 Greek Quiz. My nemesis. My kryptonite. My poke in the eye. My bad dream.
Studying Greek at 5:04 in the morning is like whacking yourself in the knee repeatedly with a mallet. It’s hard. It hurts. At least for me. A couple of the boys in our Sem class seem to feed on Greek like a Sumo wrestler at a sushi bar. Like well trained athletes, the pain of the process is part of the joy of it for them. Personally, I have to put my trust in the delayed gratification – the joy set before me, if you will – of being able to wield my Greek knowledge like a Dragon Warrior some day. But for now, I’m just a lowly inexperienced noodle-serving Panda with a dream, and Greek is my Tai Lung. It’s pounding on my brain cells.
So why do I do this? Why get up at the crack of early and take up my knee-whacking mallet and endure the pain of self-inflicted Future Active Indicative Greek Verb Paradigms?
Same reason I bought Brandon a sandwich. He owns two nail guns, and I do not.
On our first day of class this Fall, Pastor Moan stood in front of our Seminary classroom and spoke about the marathon ahead of us as Greek students. I remember some of it. I remember the part about when you’re so tired you can’t see straight, and you want to quit, bang your head against the wall and get back to work. I remember the part about “if you want to learn Greek, you need to SWEAT.” I remember, “Building endurance. Discipline. Discouragement. Carrying on when you hit the wall.” And my favorite Pastor Moan quote from the first day… “We’ve had a few casualties. I’ll admit it.” Nice.
The thing is, when I step out of my last Seminary class and into my life’s calling, I’m not going to be building a deck. Lord willing, I will be a pastor. I’m going to be shepherding souls. It will be my high calling to rightly handle the Word of God, and preach the truth with clarity and in the power of God. Who am I to do this? I’m just a panda with a hammer and a lousy drill.
A Panda who is learning Greek.
Martin Luther said, “In the measure that we love the Gospel, so let us place a strong emphasis on the languages. For it was not without reason that God wrote the Scriptures in two languages… Keep hard at the languages, for language is the sheath in which the Sword of the Spirit rests.”
The REASON we do this hard work is that it is a tool for ministry. And ministry is the goal. If I want to build a great deck in one day instead of a lousy deck over the course of… years, most likely, I need a decent saw, an air compressor, and a nail gun. Or two nail guns. Even better.
If I want to really dig into the Word of God, understand it deeply, and prepare to teach with due diligence, I need to learn Greek. And then I’ll pray like crazy and trust God can use a clumsy panda like me to preach His Word with the boldness of a Dragon Warrior. Souls are on the line.
“The modern preacher in his study is a man with his tools. The man with the best tools, all other things being equal, does the best work.” -A. T. Robertson
Greek language, look me in the eye. You are going down. Ska-Doosh!
“exploiting that one guy with the pick-up and air comnpressor :: of pandas, powertools, and studying greek” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.