Having abandoned God, the man returned to the pile of wood. Determined to fulfill God's call, he began pounding the nails into the wood...again with his bare hands.
Out of sheer stubbornness and pride, the man decided to go ahead and fulfill God's call...to build the house...in his own time, in his own strength, with his own resources.
And he failed.
With bloodied hands and the resignation known only to those in the throes of grief, the man approached God a second time.
"God, I don't understand. I want to build this house for you. I want it more than anything. But I just can't do it without a hammer. I cannot do this thing you've asked me to do without my old hammer. I miss my old hammer."
"My child, you don't understand because this makes no sense. It's true. I asked you to build a house. But I never asked you to build a house with your own hands. I never asked you to build the house by yourself. Your old hammer is broken. It will not work. The pain you are experiencing is self-induced. If you'll only trust me and spend time with me, you'll see more of my plan and your hands will thank you. Wait here with me. I will give you a hammer when the time is right. I promise."
So the man gave up on the house for the time being. The pain throbbed in his hands and pushed him away from God. He was angry...he wanted a hammer, and he wanted it now. He was hurt...he couldn't understand why God had asked him to do something and then commanded him to wait. He was afraid...he wasn't sure that God would actually ever provide a hammer. And he was ashamed: for trying it in his own strength, for avoiding God, for putting the house above God, and for his doubt.
He lived in that horribly discouraging state for quite some time: keeping himself busy with other activities so he could ignore the pile of wood and trying to avoid God as much as possible.
One evening, while spending some time with a friend, the man heard God whisper, "It's time to get your hammer."
The man was sure he'd misunderstood the words.
"Could you say that again, God? I'm listening."
"Well, I'm glad to hear that. It's time to get your hammer. Joe and Sue are holding it for you, but you'll have to spend some time with them and do a bit of work first."
The man didn't know what to expect. But he knew he had nothing to lose.
When he showed up on Joe and Sue's doorstep, he never could have guessed what was waiting for him on the other side.