The Reality of Physical Work #79

I believe God provided the home we were able to buy in an excellent neighborhood near a very good school, and a ten minute drive from the Sky Ranch office. God provided the billboards which made Sky Ranch instantly known throughout the Dallas metropolis. God was doing this work, and I was along for the ride, with a very thankful heart. When lunches were arranged for business leaders, my work was to put on a coat and tie, show up, eat good food, and speak for 15 minutes. No physical work.

However, soon after I became the Executive Director of Sky Ranch, I faced a very different type of work – physical work. It was necessary to take what was valuable and movable from the old Sky Ranch in Denton, TX, to the new Sky Ranch, three hours away in Van. This included boats, dock sections, beds, and kitchen equipment. The moving was somewhat urgent as the men subdividing the property wanted to get on with their work. At the new property, the existing road was to be replaced by a temporary road while the dam was being built, and this would take months: the 500’ earthen dam was to 25 feet high.

There was a fork lift to get things up on the flat-bed truck, but each item had to be moved to where the fork lift could get to them. Once on the truck, everything had to be put in a position to tie down. The days were long, the work very hard, but this very physical work had to be done.

I think the only time I have fainted from pain in my life was when I was up on the truck and one of the large, wooden dock sections slipped in the loading process. I was able to get my body out of the way…except for one thumb. As soon as it was squished, my thumb began to swell. I jumped off the truck and ran over to an old drinking fountain, put my thumb under the cold water, and shortly thereafter passed out, flat on the ground!

I remember the challenge of getting a large Hobart mixer out of the kitchen to where it could be picked up and taken to the truck. This was an old army mixer about six feet tall. There was no way the few of us working could lift the machine or even move the machine very much. We figured out that we could tie one end of a strong rope to the machine, take the other end across the room and out a window and tie it to a pick up truck which then pulled the mixer across the floor. When we needed to pull the mixer in another direction, we put the rope through a different door or window. We soon had the monster through the door.

When I was growing up, my father, who was a medical doctor, thought it very important that my brother and I know how to work. I think our first job was cleaning the garage. Our dad cleaned the garage with us so we would know how to do it right. He often said: “if you know how to work, it will help you whatever you do. Soon keeping the garage clean was our responsibility. When I was 12 and my brother was 14, my father and Mr. Van Kampen bought a farm so their sons would have a place to work. I learned to hoe the corn out of the soy bean field – required as there was crop rotation, and the corn picker would leave kernels on the ground. I learned to drive a tractor, back up a farm wagon, and disk a field. I was almost as big then as I am now, and when Mr. Knecht realized I could stack hay bales five high on the wagon behind the baler – this is pretty much where I lived all summer long. And the same baler was used across the road on Mr. Camas’ farm and “somehow” I ended up going with the bailer. Dad always picked us up on his way home from his office. One day, when he came by, I was still out baling hay. He knew someone would bring me home when the job was done for the day. The next morning, when my dad woke up, I was still not home. He drove out to the farm just as the sun was coming up, and I was still on the wagon stacking bales. The rain was coming and the work needed to get done before the rain came. I loved the work – and the fact that I was treated as a man.

It often comes to my mind that Jesus was a carpenter – he worked with his hands. Solomon said “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” Ecclesiastes 9:10. The Bible is full of examples of hard, physical work – the ark, the temple and its furnishings, the wall of Jerusalem. When we live In Partnership With God, much of life is just hard work, be it mental, physical or both.

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