Workmanship; Reading Life Differently

by Hilary Horn

By Barbie Perks

Workmanship. One of the challenges about starting over in a new country is finding furniture. The house we are renting is large, and we are not going to bring up furniture that we own, so we have to look around locally for what we need. There are no department stores for us to go into and buy ready-made things. 

We took a drive down the main road to see what is on offer. There are any number of people who make items one might need. This carpenter specialises in double/queen/king size beds, and so does that metal-worker, if you want a decorative metal work bed. That carpenter make chairs. Oh look, that one make children’s bunk beds. And that one makes really ornate dressing tables. Everything is displayed on the side of the road. You can watch the ‘fundi’ making his items as well. You get to have a close look at the items and feel them – sadly, the finishing of the products is pretty rough. We saw a lovely pine bed, which in our opinion, still needed at least two more lots of sanding to smooth it down nicely. Yet when coming back along the road, we saw they were already varnishing it.

The flat-pack table and 4 chairs we bought a month ago – made in China – looks nice, but screws were missing to put the chairs together, the rubber on the base of the table legs is a kind of plastic that is falling apart already. Chair tops are missing. Someone didn’t check when packing!

When we moved in, one section of the house still had renovations being done to it, bathrooms being tiled, painted, and plumbed, 3 doors had to be hung. Its two months since we viewed the house, one month since we moved in, and the work is still not completed. The painter painted over at least 2cm of the tiling, the doors have not been sanded or varnished, one corner of the bathroom and toilet still needs tiling finished off.

The question begs: are we being too particular? Should we just accept shoddy workmanship because “this is Africa”? Do we have the right to demand perfection of others? Do we in turn give of our best when we make or produce something?

I am so grateful that God is a perfect Creator, that the things he creates are good in his sight (Genesis 1 and 2) 

In Ephesians 2:10 I am reminded that we – you and I – are his workmanship (KJV, ESV), created by him to do good things which he has prepared for us to do. The NIV version talks of us being God’s handiwork. A quick word study expands the verse remarkably: we have been made by God, completely created, changed or transformed in Christ Jesus, to do good, excellent, honourable and useful works – whether in business, employment, anything that we undertake to do, any product, artwork, industry, or thinking we occupy ourselves with, any act or deed we do, things we work hard at – that God prepared beforehand, or in advance, for us to do – so that we should conduct ourselves and our lives, making full use of the opportunities God gives us. Wow, what a reminder of the complexity of God’s creation of you and me! 

What is the attitude we are encouraged to have? Peter and Paul both tell us that we are to work as if we are working for God (Eph 6:7) to work wholeheartedly at whatever we do (Col 3:23), to recognise the great responsibility that we have been given  by God to embrace all the opportunities he creates and gives to us – to serve, to minister, to provide, to teach, to nurse, to heal, to feed, to grow, to encourage, to share generously, to lead enthusiastically, to mother, to father, to guide and mentor, to create with our hands in whatever way he has gifted us (1 Pet 4:10).

Creator God and Father, you have made me with such love and care, given me so much to guide and help me in my daily walk with you. Would you open my heart and eyes to see the wonderful areas of life in which you offer me opportunities to serve you? Would you in love renew the tired soul, bring joy to the sad one, provide new purpose for the one who has lost focus, that we might all sing your praises again.


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