When I saw the pile of drawings in front of me, I felt sick. Physically sick.
Why, on earth, had I agreed to take on this project, I thought to myself? There was literally no way I’d be able to get through this amount of work to meet the deadline in about 6 weeks’ time. A 1:50 scale model of a distillery in that mental time-frame. On top of a full-time day job. It seemed completely impossible. What was I actually thinking? I despaired.
Somehow sensing how disheartened I was, my wife, Alise, prayed for me, reminding me that ours is a God who delights in impossibilities and that, in any case, this project was an answer to prayer in the first place—but I’ll need to back-up a little bit in order to explain…
An impossible task
It was a few weeks previously and abroad visiting my in-laws, when I received a phone call from some architects in Edinburgh, asking whether I’d be interested in building a timber model of one of their projects: a new distillery in the Scottish borders. I had to explain to them that I had left the architecture profession, and that being otherwise employed, there was no way that I’d be able to take on that size of project (and certainly in the tight deadline to get it finished in time for the opening of the building). I politely declined the invitation, and gave them a list of contacts that might be able to help with the model building.
However, after hanging up the phone, I began to have a gnawing sense that this might’ve actually been the provision we’d been praying for—we were expecting our second child, and were looking to move into a bigger place, which would entail all sorts of costs in moving home. I prayed, something along the lines of,
Lord, if this is your means of provision, then please bring it back—and make it clear that it’s from You!
Thus, I left it in the Lord’s hands, and didn’t give it much further thought for the next few days and weeks, or really until I received another call from the architects. Having considered all their options, both the architects and their client were apparently very keen that I should build their model (despite my own clearly stated misgivings) and how could I be persuaded? They even suggested that I could up my fee! Well, this was certainly beginning to sound like an answer to prayer—but there was still one, very big stumbling block in place…surely, there was no way my employer would contemplate letting me moonlight like this?! This was my get-out-of-jail-free-card, or so I thought!
Well, so I thought. As it turned out, my Christian employer could see that this seemed like a God-thing and not only gave me her express permission, but her blessing over the whole endeavour. And so, with some reticence, I was able to go back to the architect and agree to undertaking the work.
Completing the task
And that’s when the real ‘fun’ began: surveying the pile of architectural drawings in front of me; the box-loads of balsa wood; the despair; Alise’s prayer…
There was nothing for it, but to begin. There wasn’t even time to create a detailed project timeline, so I just set out the tasks for each week:
week 1: build the roof trusses
week 2: external walls of the distilling halls
week 3: external walls of main house
week 4: internal walls, floors, stairs, roof & furniture of main house
week 5: internal walls and floors of distilling halls & distillery kit
week 6: windows & other finishing details
At the outset, each week seemed to be an impossible task, with each succeeding week apparently more impossible than the previous (remember I had a full-time job, responsibilities at church and a wife and daughter competing for time)!
Somehow, however, I got through the first week and completed the task. But, the nausea returned when I saw the workload ahead of me for the following week. Again, Alise prayed with me, and I embarked on the week’s task.
By the beginning of the third week, I no longer doubted, but trusted in the Lord’s equipping for the strength and energy to sustain me through the early mornings and long hours into the night.
Going into the final week, the end was beginning to come into sight, and I’d taken some annual leave to focus on completing the work. Everything had more or less gone smoothly (barring a brief interlude of self-treatment from a scalpel injury) and the model was coming together.
However, there is one more incident worth mentioning…I had found some Portuguese artisans to craft scale versions of the copper stills, and these were supposed to have arrived by now…however, when I spoke to the courier company, they couldn’t work out on any of their systems where the package was—they couldn’t even tell me which city it was in (for some reason they thought it had been mistakenly sent to Germany). It’s the kind of thing that would have probably led me to despair, and by now, the whole construction sequence depended on these copper stills being in place. What could I do, but pray?
Lord, I know that You know where this missing package is—even if nobody else does. You know that I need them in order to complete the task that You have given me. I trust in You and Your perfect timing…
Well, the next morning my prayer was answered! The courier had uncovered the missing package…in their depot in Glasgow! I was able to complete the model, and have it delivered just in time to be installed before the first visitors arrived. And I could sleep again.
equipped for the future
The Lord had sustained me through the project, and had provided the additional funds we would need in order to cover some of the moving costs into our wonderful new home. Moreover, through the pain and the sweat, He was showing me that He can be trusted to equip you for whatever it is He is calling you to—and no matter how seemingly impossible things may be, He is a God who can move the mountains. And, at the end of the day, He was reminding me that He is God.
HE GIVES US STORIES ///
Thank you for following along with our Advent series, He Gives Us Stories.
Our prayer is that you have been encouraged as you've read of the exciting and amazingly varied ways God is at work in our church family
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