Written by: James Thompson 

I recently worked on a DIY project for my wife. A project that required me to build something out of wood.  I used a miter saw, a circular saw, screwdriver, screws, nails, the whole nine yards.  On making the first cut into the 2×4, it hit me….not the 2×4… but rather the a sweet smell … of sawdust. This was due in large part because I was cutting the wood in the driveway and had failed to take into account the direction of the wind.

Although the sawdust smelled familiar, I couldn’t tell you the last time I cut a 2×4 or sheet of plywood.  But, regardless, I can tell you it smelled good.

Real Men_Sawdust_James

But why?

I think it reminds me of my Dad’s workshop. My Dad can make most anything out of wood.  For example, he wanted to make me a coffee table to set my groom’s cake on at my wedding reception. I gave him some ideas and boom! Here is what he made:

James_coffee table

When Zoe was about to be born, he made a cradle. A cradle that would successfully rock all three kids to sleep.


The smell of sawdust reminds me of the act of creating. Whether it be a birdhouse, a bookshelf, or table, sawdust is created during the process of building. Sawdust is the byproduct of taking ordinary materials (2×4, plywood, etc.) and transforming them into something. I associate its smell with hard work, promise, and anticipation for the final outcome.

To be honest, I would say that sawdust makes me feel more manly.  When I have sawdust on my clothes, arms, or hair (easily done if wind is blowing), I feel like I have done something worthwhile.  I have created/built. I could have left well enough alone (and usually do). I could have bought the object I needed (from Walmart for less price and lower quality). I could have found an excuse to stop and not finish (is there football on?). But, I didn’t. No, not this time.

“See that kids?”  (Insert assorted “awesomes,” “wows,” “that rocks,” from my kids here).

“Daddy made that.”

I say that not to brag. Because, I know that whatever I have made is not perfect. I say that because I want to feed their desire to create. I want them to try to build something.

Before dating, debate, band, tennis and Boy Scouts, there were tinker toys and Legos. And, as Missy and I are experiencing with out little ones, there is still a fascination with Legos from both Isaac and the girls. I think we are hardwired that way.  Is that a surprise?  Mankind is created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27)

Isn’t God the ultimate Creator?

We are God’s DIY Project

Not only are we creators, but we are the created. We are God’s handiwork. We are made for a purpose.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We are a Work in Progress

Philippians 1:4-6

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Sawdust is made by cutting away pieces of a board that are unnecessary to the project’s plans.  I think we are called upon daily to cut away those parts of us that are not part of God’s plan – our selfish desires, envy, pride, etc.

We are the Aroma of Christ

Like woodworking, cutting away those unnecessary parts will create “spiritual sawdust that will get all over us and everyone around us.  Could that be the point?

2 Corinthians 2:15

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;

Hopefully those around us will smell the sweet smell of God’s working in/within us. I hope my Creator finds my “spiritual sawdust” smell as pleasing as I find that generated from my own creations.


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