03/28/2008 02:48 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Habitat For Humanity And My Rooftop Revelation

I am a building contractor in Lynchburg, Virginia. Almost 20 years ago, I was asked to donate some time using my carpentry abilities to help frame a home for a good family that needed a hand. I quickly learned about an organization called Habitat For Humanity. This home was the first home to be built in our town by Habitat For Humanity.

I showed up one Saturday morning with around fifteen other people and didn't know what to expect. By the time the day was done there was a small home framed on what was just a concrete slab some eight hours earlier. I built homes for a living, but there was something very special about this project. Everyone worked very hard and no one was getting paid, yet we smiled all day long.

We worked side by side with the family who was buying the home. The family was a good hard-working family, but their income just covered their living expenses and rent in a substandard home. They were not able to save enough for a down payment to buy a decent home. Habitat was allowing them to work on the house and their "sweat equity" hours became their down payment. Habitat would then sell them the home without charging them any interest or any profit. The entire concept hooked me immediately. I knew that I would be back to volunteer again.

I experienced an eye-opening and life-changing moment several years later on a Habitat rooftop in Lynchburg. A Jewish friend of mine called me because he knew I was a believer in Habitat. His synagogue had decided to sponsor a Habitat home, but there was a problem. Habitat does much of their building on Saturdays and that didn't work for the synagogue. They needed to find a builder willing to lead a group of volunteers on what happened to be Palm Sunday framing the home. I don't do that well sitting in the pew on Sunday anyway so I welcomed the chance to do my praying with a hammer in my hand.

We had a great day working and finished covering up the roof as the sun was going down. As I stood on the ridge of the roof, high on a hill overlooking Lynchburg, it hit me like the proverbial bolt of lightning. Now follow me on this. Here I stood, a retired Catholic boy who now attends a United Methodist church, working with a Christian based organization, on a home sponsored by a Jewish synagogue for a black Baptist family. At that moment, I realized that no matter what your vision of the Supreme Being is, this is what he or she had in mind. It was with that Rooftop Revelation that I realized this is truly what life is all about.

If you have yet to find the feeling you receive when you give of yourself, I want to encourage you to reach for it. If you listen to your heart instead of your head you will find your place. When you do you will never be the same.