The Paper, The Pencil, and The Saw

The other day, my dad and I were working on a rental house that he owns. The house was empty and didn’t have a tenant, so we were doing some renovations. One of the projects involved taking down the outdated cabinets in the kitchen and replacing them with new ones. After maybe two hours of taking apart old cabinets and moving them to the side of the road, we moved on to the next project.

We walked into one of the bedrooms in the house to find two large holes in the wall. “I’m going to show you how to fix a hole in sheetrock”, my Dad said.

“Bring me a piece of paper and a pencil”.


If you’re like me, that or something similar probably went through your head. What on Earth could a pencil and a piece of paper have to do with repairing a hole in some sheetrock?

Though I was confused, I did as he said. The piece of paper was big enough to cover the hole, so he put it up over the hole in the wall and began to trace around the edge of the hole. At the end, he had a pretty accurate outline of the hole we needed to fix. But there were two of them.

“Bring me another sheet of paper”

I did. Another sheet of paper, another outline. But what exactly was the point of this?

“Put these over in the corner. We don’t need them right now”.

So we just did this, and now we don’t need it? We have a piece of paper with an outline of a hole on it that we don’t need right now. Two of them, actually.

Next, we cut four pieces of wood out of some two-by-fours, two pieces for each hole. With each piece roughly a foot long, we would put the wood behind the sheetrock and drill screws into the wall to hold it in place. Despite my drilling completely through the sheetrock twice and my dad drilling through it once, we managed to secure each of the four pieces of wood.

“Bring those pieces of paper back. We’re cutting some sheetrock that matches the shape of the paper.”

We grab a piece of sheetrock and a saw and start cutting. Eventually, the sheetrock resembles one of the pieces of paper. We put it up to the hole that it’s supposed to cover, only to find out that it’s too big. More sawing.

Still too big. More sawing.

Still more.

Finally, after the fourth time the sheetrock fits into the hole.

And everything made sense.

What’s the point of all this, anyway?

“Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came to see if perhaps he might find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.” — Mark 11:13-14 WEB

Notice that this verse doesn’t say figs were never going to be there, it says it wasn’t the season for figs. As in, there is a season for figs, but it’s not now.

The same is true for the piece of paper.

When my Dad and I started to work on repairing the hole in the sheetrock, his first set of instructions to me was to tell me to do something that had no immediate benefit whatsoever. A piece of paper with an outline of a hole on it. By itself, it’s useless. It has no value. My Dad even said as much by telling me to put it away. “We don’t need them right now.” he’d said. So if it has no value now, why did he tell me to do it?

Because it’s part of something bigger. Something bigger that I couldn’t see.

A piece of paper. A pencil. A saw. Some scissors. A piece of sheetrock. Some screws.

Maybe you can draw on the piece of paper? You can screw the screws into the wood? Saw the wood into pieces? Cut the paper with the scissors?

You would never think that scissors could help you fix a hole in some sheetrock. But they do. The interesting thing about all the tools we used is that by themselves they seem to not work together at all. Maybe they seem random, even. But if you take any one of those tools away, the entire project falls apart.

Let me say that again. If you take any of them away, the project falls apart. Think about it, and it’s true.

Even the piece of paper that has a line drawn on it. The one that in that moment in the beginning seems worthless. Because it’s not the season for the piece of paper to be used. It’s needed, it has value. But we don’t need it yet. But the key is that at some point we will.

That is how God works.

God has a plan for us. As Christians we all know that. But sometimes (maybe more than sometimes) we try to make God’s plan for us fit in our boxes here on Earth that we can understand.

But God’s plan for us will never fit into our little understandable boxes. Our minds will never be able to comprehend God’s work and what He is doing in our lives.

In the same way that I had to trust my dad when what he was telling me to do was part of a bigger plan that I didn’t understand, we have to trust that God is always working for the best for us in our lives. Because He is. Even if we don’t want to acknowledge it, He is.

Even if we don’t understand it. Or even if it seems like what just happened was pointless. Or we may even feel like we’re worse off than before because something happened. Like me drilling through the sheetrock, things won’t always go the way you want them to. You’ll get upset. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll get hurt. You’ll feel like you’re not going anywhere. But trust in Him anyway.

A piece of paper. A pencil. A saw. Some scissors. A piece of sheetrock. Some screws.

You’d never think that scissors can help you fix sheetrock. But they do.