Each year my old garage leans a little more to the west on one corner and to the north on another. This year it finally got to the point where it had become a safety hazard; so I called a reputable, local contractor to see if we could pull it straight and save it.
After looking at it, he called me to tell me that my old garage can’t be saved. It’s sort of twisting its way to the ground, pivoting around the one good corner, and it would have to be torn down and replaced—foundation and all.
For a mere $18,000.
Because it’s a 2-car garage, and has shifted so much, (approximately 9 inches to be exact) he wasn’t optimistic that it could be straightened without it coming down but he gave me a number of a contractor that might be interested.
Another contractor never got back to me after saying he’d do a drive by for a look.
Tricky fix up jobs like this aren’t the most attractive and understandably. Sometimes it’s just easier to tear it down and start from scratch.
That’s where my brother-in-law (my wife’s brother) comes into the picture.
He’s self-employed and usually looks a bit worn and dirty from being in the middle of some some home repair project.
He’s also had a life filled with struggles.
My wife’s father passed away in an unexpected accident when she and her siblings were just teenagers. If that wasn’t enough, the woundedness that entered their family in previous generations—through alcoholism and everything that goes along with it—came to the surface and their family quickly came unraveled.
While driving last week, I saw my brother-in-law riding a bike. I hadn’t asked him to help me because he recently lost his license and is going through some troubles of his own. He’s also pretty busy, but I stopped him and told him about my garage situation and he assured me we’d get it straightened out.
We made plans to fix it on this past Sunday.
His yard sort of brings to mind an old sitcom, Sanford and Son. He has all kinds of scrap lying around that he figures he can make use of sooner or later.
He doesn’t like to throw away anything!
He doesn’t mind me saying any of this neither. As a matter of fact, we discussed how this related to God, and he gave me his blessing to share all this.
Because he just recently lost his license, he needs to rely on someone else to help him get his tools around for bigger jobs. But for smaller jobs, he took scrap metal, pipes, and other things to fix up an old bike and make a cart to haul around some basic tools.
We live in such a throwaway culture where we run from every struggle and sometimes prefer to throw away anything difficult or inconvenient to us. I think it’s easy to look at past mistakes, difficult relationships or circumstances, the marginalized, or even ourselves as sort of unfixable like my garage; or we look and see so much useless “junk” like in my brother-in-law’s yard.
Yet, sometimes we need reminders that that’s not how God sees things—that there’s absolutely nothing He can’t work for good when we just bring it all to Him. God has a plan and purpose for everyone—even if we can’t always see it ourselves.
No matter what our past, He can take every struggle, wound, hurt, our poor choices, or any mess we’ve made—as a result of our own sin or the sins of others—and can turn it into something we could’ve never thought of or imagined.
God used the greatest evil in the history of man to bring about the greatest good when Jesus was beaten, humiliated, and killed by His own creatures so that we might be saved!
My brother-in-law has suffered in brokenness through much of his life, yet he’s able to see what most of us can’t see and make something out of it.
One of my favorite Pope Francis quotes is when he said, “The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.”
My garage is straight for the first time since I bought this house over 15 years ago and even stronger than ever with the bracing we added.
I sat on my patio late Sunday night thinking about what a merciful God we have, and of the beautiful brother-in-law He’s blessed me with. And what if we all just squinted a little or asked God for new eyes; and for Him to take our “junk” and make something new.