The other day I was building a simple doorway in our stairway to keep the heat from going upstairs and therefore save fuel in our newly-installed furnace. I had measured out and sawed the old two-by-fours and fitted them into place. But I wasn't pleased. Neither was the wife. The old pieces were out of a roof, and had ugly notches cut in them. So we both agreed I should make it out of new lumber.
Thus, armed with my old door-frame pieces, I was off to Ansonia, Ohio, Lumber Company, to pick out some straight two-by-fours and have them cut. The correct measurements were well marked, so I thought, on the old pieces. All that remained was for the lumber yard shop man to transfer these measurements over to the new pieces, then trim and plane them a bit. I had the exact angle of the stairs marked clearly on the older pieces. How easy it was to transfer those marks over onto the new pieces. The big, whirring saw-blade trimmed and mitered them to 'perfection'. After paying the bill (as if in gold dust), I was soon back and trying to fit the new pieces onto the very old stairway. But, when it came to fitting the stair-rise angle into the new piece, I discovered that the shop man had sketched it onto the wrong side of the two-by-four. Thus, when it was placed against the wall, the neatly-mitered angle went down instead of up. What a dilemma. I couldn't go back and have the shop man replace it 'for free'. I would have to be paying double for what I was going to use. And last of all would I try and accuse the shop man of making a mistake, for he was so kind in trying to please me. Besides it would be forty extra miles of driving at a time when fuel and gas rationing was breathing down our necks.
I simply decided that, since buying new lumber is like mining gold, I would do my best to correct the error and use the same pieces. By my trusty old hand-saw I merely followed the corrective lines I drew, in spite of the wrong angles mitered at the lumber yard shop. The piece fitted fine up against the old stairway wall, allowing for the angled baseboard and the old railing which I left intact. But there was empty places both in the middle and at the bottom of my piece which have to be filled up in order to cover up the mistakes we made in wrongly transferring our angles from the old to the new piece.
I don't like to make such obvious errors as this. The easiest way would be for me to 'blame the shop man' for wrongly marking it. But I was there, too, and should have known better than to allow him to do it the wrong way. But I didn't. So I was as much to blame as he even a little more so.
One thing I have noticed is that many things I have taken to a shop to be cut, trimmed or planed, they have not fitted when I brought them back to nail in place. More than once, almost every time in fact, I've had to re-work the angles and notches by hand, filling up the empty places, made by the big machine. It has not always been the shop man's fault, nor his machine's. For machines are only limited in their ability to compensate for angles that have to be fitted in old houses that oftentimes have sagging floors, or wood beams that twist over the years and/or walls that lean out of plumb. But I have always managed to finish the work out by hand, and fill in here and there so no one, not even myself, was the wiser that, underneath somewhere, lay the hidden errors and mistakes.
The thought came to me that, 'Life is like that. It is costly and one must dig deeply into the pockets of his jeans in order to purchase a little of it. No one is able to go through life without making costly mistakes every day. Mistakes which we all too clearly see after they have been made. But the great value in life is to learn how to correct our lives, in spite of our errors. To make our lives over and get the measurements right, once again, after we've made the wrong marks, takes a lot of extra work, will power, resolution and time. But it is well worth it, if we want things to be right. Just like it was in making the correct angle over the wrong one in my stairway door frame, then covering and filling the empty places in again, to make it just as good and sturdy and perfect-appearing as if the mistakes hadn't been made.
The greatest hope of mankind is that, with all the mistakes we have made in the past in our lives, the Bible promises that we can be made over, like new just as if the mistakes had never occurred. And, since all of us make many mistakes throughout life, there is no greater gift that can be bestowed on mankind than this. I'm sure that, if we took an old beat-up and much-battered jalopy to a dealer and he gave us a brand new, latest model car in return for it, and without extra charge save that we drive more carefully from now on, we would feel he was the kindest man we had ever met. Yet, in the pages of the Bible we read how God gives us another chance. He takes our old, wrecked lives and makes them new again, without charge, except that from now on we must resolve to live better lives according to His will.
And He who re-makes our lives is doing so to something much more priceless than an automobile which can more easily be replaced than can flesh and mind and soul. The great Bible expositor, the late Dr. Barn house once said, 'God is the greatest junk dealer of all. He takes in the most miserable and hopeless of human wrecks and makes them new again.'
But the Divine Grace of human reclamation that we can all enjoy now was a long time a-coming, as recorded in the pages of scripture. First of all God tried to show man a better way of life through the few who were stalwart and faithful in listening to His voice, such as Abraham and Lot. Then He tried to reach man through Moses and The Ten Commandments with Divinely appointed Judges to interpret those laws. But mankind still wanted to go his own way. Later the Prophets were sent to interpret the times and the future as another Divine attempt to reclaim man back into God's image.
Finally, God decided He'd have to come in person to save man from his errors and ways. So He sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, who lived and mingled and taught among men 'that they might have life and have it more abundantly.' But still man persisted in his own stubborn ways until a Savior had to die in order that we may live and not die for our mistakes and ways. Since man wouldn't make an effort to go right, after all of God's efforts, He had to die in our place, that we might have life in spite of our mistakes, and only for the asking.
To believers this is what the blessed season of Christmas and Easter are all about. Despite the fact that men still attach great commercial value, such as Christmas gifts and toys and Easter Bunnies and eggs to them, there are those that remain faithful to the coming of a promised Messiah and His final sacrifice that man might have eternal life.
Though man has always been, and still is a remarkable and intelligent 'critter', there are dead-ends where he winds up and needs someone special to get him out of his dilemma. How many times have men who are qualified as steam engineers worked to repair their engines. And most of the time they can get them back to working order. But, every once in a while a problem or dilemma arises wherein a 'special engineer' must be called in to find the trouble. They used to call them 'factory experts'. They were the guys who were supposed to know the final answers to the big, evasive problems that the home mechanics were not able to solve. I am reminded of a story told by one of my high school teachers, Franz Robuck. Said he, 'An industrial plant once had to shut down because one of its big and complicated machines had broken down and wouldn't run. The plant's experts tried everything they knew to start it again, but failed. Finally they had to call the factory that made it and they sent an expert. The expert looked over the machine, picked up a hammer and hit it and it began running again. When the plant manager asked how much they owed the expert, he replied, 'Five hundred dollars.' And they said, 'Five hundred dollars just to hit it once with a hammer?' And his answer was, 'No just one dollar to hit it with the hammer. But four hundred and ninety-nine dollars to KNOW WHERE to hit it.'
Now I recall many times when I've made stubborn contraptions, like Rube Goldberg nightmares, work again, merely by hitting them with my fist or kicking them rather heftily with my foot. Things like so-called stamp dispensers in post offices or coin machines in laundromats, and even candy and coffee 'automats' in theatres and garages sometimes the old fist or heel will convince them to start working once again. Or like the time when I was a young blood working in the local town theatre, and one nickel and a kick made the candy machine belch forth twenty bars, one after the other. (WOW but hard on my teeth).
Is it any wonder that as we advance through life, our spines are curved, our sacroiliacs have rotated out of place, and our stomachs go 'Blah' kicking and hitting at those one-armed bandits to get our nickel's worth of junk food in return. And that our tempers become so jaded that only God can reclaim our souls?
And then to think how the old-time steam engineers have had to pound and kick (yea even, use the Lord's name in vain) to get their big and hefty contraptions to running again.
All of which makes us to understand only the more why many wind up with achin' backs, curvature of the spine, stiff-necked and lost in both mind and soul. But, like the stubborn old steam engines they make to work again, so the body is often responsive to what we can do for it, if only we know how. Even though the doctors may give up.
The book I have recently been reading tells how a certain Osteopath has discovered that many of the illnesses of our upper trunk stem from a misplaced sacra-iliac in the hip joint. Curvatures result in the upper spine, digestive troubles ensue, pain in great areas of our muscles, even arthritis and painful hemmroids develop from this displacement at the lower end of the spinal column which results from the base being thrown on a tilt. In such cases all the pills in the world will not help. Only correction at the base can start the body back on the road to health. And this doctor shows how one simple exercise, or adjustment can put the sacro-iliac joint back in place.
We described this simple self-adjustment in the previous column of IMA, and it would be wise to review it carefully and with understanding. Every time I adjust my sacro-iliac I tell others I have just saved myself five dollars and waiting all afternoon in a doctor's office. The author claims that even so-called slipped discs will eventually benefit from this adjustment, usually without operation, as do also the upper curvatures and other pains and sicknesses and suffering that result over the years. In order to get well, we must get down to the very basics. Just as in God's plan, the basic evils that rob man of life are restored to faith and only then is man made whole.
'I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.'
What more is there to gain than that?