Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Shed - Black

An original edition of the following article was published in the June 24, 2010, issue of The Watford Guide-Advocate.

They were offered ‘On Special’, and my wife and I ordered one. We eagerly awaited delivery of the 10 X 7 foot shed. It came last week, in two packages. The smaller, perhaps weighing 50 pounds, contained the galvanized metal foundation. The larger box, weighing approximately 260 pounds – more than twice my scrawny weight – contained the shed.

Packages of nuts, bolts, and screws, sheets of painted steel, and lengths of galvanized reinforcement, adorned the back yard. This was our shed! Fortunately, instruction booklets were provided. But, my ... what a back-breaking, knee-joint-wearing, whole-body-muscle-aching job, it all turned out to be – and that’s not to mention the frustration and emotional befrazzlement of trying to figure out obscure aspects of the instructions, and too-small illustrations.

No, I didn’t curse ... not even once; but I groaned – a lot. And fussed. Why can’t they provide nuts with quarter-inch depth to go with these bolts, instead of these little eighth-of-an-inch things? They would be so much easier for the socket and wrench to grip, without slipping off all the time! A coupla’ dollars more for those, and it would save hours of pain and frustration. Were we tempted to give up? Close, but not quite.

At one stage, I’d been trying to figure out a particular instruction illustrated by a way-too-small diagram, and unsuccessfully applied considerable intellectual reasoning to putting several components together. The result didn’t look quite right. May woke up the following morning with the correct solution (so much for the male ego and the intellectual approach, eh?). She also suggested we take a gander at Canadian Tire, where a similar, though smaller, unit was assembled.

Ah, yes. Our eyes were opened, we gained insight through someone else’s efforts, and could then see our way ahead. And now, we have a handsome two-tone garden shed. It’s waiting for me to finish telling you about it, so I can get out there and install a plywood floor (not included with the purchase, I might add). We learned from our mistakes and gained insight into interpreting the instructions, by viewing that other completed project.

The lesson in all this? Live, look, and learn.

Living involves risk. We attempt things we’ve never done before, and go places in our experience we’ve never gone before. Living provides a life-long opportunity to learn and grow.

Looking and observing how others have handled situations in their lives provides opportunity for us to learn from their experience, especially from those who have faced similar challenges as we, for that can provide insight into our situation.
Our individual challenges are in some sense unique, yet there are often similarities with those of others, and our observing them can inspire hope and ignite renewed courage to press on and not give up.

Learning certainly is a life-long process, and is the result of living. Living intentionally. Living with purpose. Living with direction.

The biblical scriptures have been described as a road map for life and as an instruction book on living. And yet, the map in places may seem hard to follow, and the instructions obscure. That’s where the experience of others who have walked the way–who have built their lives and found valuable instruction, can help us.

Jesus Christ is "The way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), and through Him we find our way to God and our heavenly home. Who wouldn’t give up a tin shed for that!

Peter Black continues writing a weekly column in The Guide.
His children's/family book "Parables from the Pond" -- described as, "mildly educational, inspirationally-oriented, character-reinforcing fiction for children 6-10 or kids from 5-95!" was shortlisted by Word Alive Press, and published by them in 2008.

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