The other day I got to thinking about barn painting, and some of the painful lessons I have learned the hard way. There is a spiritual parallel in these, and the more I thought about it, the more I could see how stating these lessons might be of some benefit to others, particularly those who have not had the “joy” of painting a barn.
There are a lot of ways painting a barn can go wrong. The whole project can “go South” really quickly, to the extent that you will never want to try that again! For example, I know of a gospel preacher who fell from a barn roof and broke both arms. For many weeks he could not even use the restroom without his wife’s assistance. I’m not sure what he was doing up there, or how he managed to study and preach afterwards, but I’m sure it was embarrassing and unpleasant. So, on the theory of avoiding predicaments like his, consider the following:
- Be prepared! Don’t underestimate the job, and convince yourself that you can do it, or that you can do it alone, or that you can do it alone in a few hours. Any one of these assumptions may be deadly wrong. Ours is what is known as a “bank” barn, very common in this part of the country. These are beautiful structures, but often very large and imposing. The top of the roof seems like about 50 feet high when you’re on a ladder, especially an old, wooden ladder that should have been thrown out years ago. If you are unprepared for heights, you don’t need to be doing this. Don’t underestimate the amount of paint, brushes and other supplies you will need either. Remember you will need them once you get up the ladder, so don’t start thinking about them after you are up there. I remember seeing a barn which was nicely painted, but only up about 7 feet from the ground all the way around. That’s great for a person who can work with both feet firmly planted on the ground, but a little forethought will prevent a lot of talk from your neighbors. Spiritually, we need to be prepared, or, as Jesus said, “Watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail,” (Lk. 21:36). Remember the five foolish virgins who were unprepared? There are many references in the Scriptures to the need to be alert, sober, watchful, prepared, (cf. Rom. 13:11; 1 Thess. 5:6; Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet. 5:8, etc.).
- Remember the risks! Here’s a tip: Wasps can still sting at 30 feet! There are risks to working high above the ground from a ladder, and that’s a lot like life. As we get older, maybe have children, we start to get into some very difficult issues. Some of these involve great risk. Parents raising children are dealing with souls who live for an eternity. Husbands and wives are influencing the eternal destiny of their spouse. Bible school teachers need to understand that their Bible class is no time for carelessness or showing off. You are working with precious commodities at a very high altitude—and there is plenty of interference. James said, “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment,” (Jas. 3:1). Obviously he was not saying we should not teach, but we should only do so recognizing what a weighty and serious responsibility it is! Getting serious about our Christianity is risky.
- Use good paint! Believe me, I know the temptation to save a few dollars by using paint which your brother-in-law found on sale down at Billy Bob’s Bargain Basement. But the extra money you will spend on high-quality paint, as well as superior brushes and other tools, will more than pay for itself. Remember that you want your work to last longer than a year or two. Speaking of quality craftsmanship, Paul said, “But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon…Each man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is,” (3:10-13).
- Work with nature! Right up there with disturbing a wasp nest is looking up atop the ladder and noticing a looming thunderstorm. We may think we can disregard nature and do it our own way, but believe me, nature is going to win every time! So let’s get on God’s side and work with him not against him. Never lose sight of who is really in charge.
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.