I am in the middle of a handful of DIY projects, woodworking for our new, small condo in Manila. I’m building bookshelves, stand-alone shelving, tables, cabinets and a bed. It’s been enjoyable for me to sweat like a man.

And as I saw, sand and screw planks and two by fours together on my seventh floor balcony, I ponder a lot of things. My mind slows, and I consider the delicacies of relations past and present, the people I miss and those who I am unfortunately apologetic that, though we were once so close, I have fallen out of touch with their meaningful daily rituals. I wish I knew their kids’ names. I wish we could Skype.

I measure a piece of plywood and begin to cut. The loud sound of my circular saw echoes back to me from the skyscraper opposite ours. I apply a thumbful of wood putty to my cabinet. I think of Jesus, and who he really was, and “did the Savior of the world really smell of sawdust and paint?”

All I know of Jesus before age thirty is that he was born in a manger, then ten years later, ran away from his parents to catch a church service. The rest of the Biblical account is blank. But wait, wasn’t he carpenter?

I wonder if Jesus’ mind slowed to consider the relationships in his life, and if he thought of them in the bigger God-scheme of life—that he was the rescue sent to his buddies and cousins and parents. My mind slows again as I think of all these things. I think, “who are you, Jesus? Who are you really?”

Am I becoming a little bit more like Jesus as I cut and assemble wood? The Savior who smells of sawdust and wood putty makes a little more sense to me as my DIY projects begin to take shape.

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David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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