Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are from the construction sites my dad used to work at. My dad was a contractor in east Texas for many years before he became a vocational minister, just before my 4th grade year. During the summer, I would sometimes go to work with him. Though I had no reason to expect it then, those memories played a large role in who I am today.
In Donald Miller's new book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, he writes about a friend of his that records all the memories he can recall. Here's what he says about him.
"The saddest thing about life is you don’t remember half of it. You don’t even remember half of half of it. Not even a tiny percentage, if you want to know the truth. I have this friend Bob who writes down everything he remembers. If he remembers dropping an ice cream cone on his lap when he was seven, he’ll write it down. The last time I talked to Bob, he had written more than five hundred pages of memories. He’s the only guy I know who remembers his life. He said he captures memories, because if he forgets them, it’s as though they didn’t happen; it’s as though he hadn’t lived the parts he doesn’t remember." - Donald Miller
I think Bob might be on to something. So before I get to my point, I'm going to record some of my memories from those days when I went to work with my dad and maybe you can catch a glimpse of what those times were like.
I remember waking up before the sun rose and falling asleep again before we made it to the gas station for breakfast.
I remember getting sunflower seeds at the gas station because that's what my dad got.
I remember accidentally swallowing most of the sunflower seed shells due to lack of experience with the art.
I thought the guys on my dad's crew were the funniest people in the world.
I remember cutting my thumb with a utility knife that I was trying to carve a stick with, and then having to show my dad. (I still have the scar)
One day, I was throwing dirt clods into a hole in a tree and an owl stuck its head out. It scared me so bad, I fell backwards into the dirt. I told my dad and the rest crew, but they didn't believe me until everyone stopped working and saw the pissed off bird for themselves.
I remember interrupting my dad one day while he was talking business with the owner of the house he was building and, consequently, learning a lesson I never forgot. Talk less, listen more.
I remember seeing the framework of spiral staircase my dad had built and thinking it was the most amazing thing my 8 year old eyes had ever seen.
A few days ago I was at a small group gathering at my friend Brad's house. We meet every Tuesday night and study the bible. We are all in our 20's and some come and go, but there is always an eclectic group of thinkers sitting in that circle around Brad's living room. I really love going and I know that God wants me there because he speaks to me each time I come.
We are going through Ephesians right now and on Tuesday we covered the first ten verses of chapter two. In those ten verses Paul gives one of the most beautiful and clear portrayals of the Gospel in all the bible. I love how that story never gets old. The verse that He used to speak to me that night was verse ten.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10
Words like "workmanship" are powerful to me in light of the environment that God has chosen for me to mature. Reading this that night served as a timely reminder that God has a perfect plan for me and that He has been working on me long before I was born.
My life has taken some turns in the last few years that I didn't expect, but those turns didn't surprise Him. I never expected to be 23 and still two years shy of a bachelors degree. In my career plans I did not dream of taking a year and a half off from school and doing carpentry work instead, but I can see how that story makes sense. I can see, now, how I ended up back in east Texas, at the age of 22, at a gas station, at 6 in the morning, on my way to a job site, buying sunflower seeds. Our Father is a master storyteller.
I don't know all that God has crafted me to do on this earth yet, but I am so thankful for what He has allowed me to experience and that the work he has done in me is meant to be used for His glory.