I have little time to be here today, friends. Still and yet, I’ve been stuck in 1 Chronicles 17 for the better part of an hour and feel like I want to say something. Nothing new on my end; “saying” something seems an easy fit with my personality. That being said, not all my “saying” is worthy of the “saying.” Are you following me?
Even if you’re not, there’s something I want to say to you. Something I think that God would like for us to remember as we go about the business of our day, desperately trying to “build” a life that matters. We’re all busy building something.
___________________ (you fill in the blank).
Regardless of the “dressing” we’re wearing this morning, whether it be a hard hat, a whistle, and briefcase, some overalls, or, perhaps even our pj’s from the night before, you and I woke up to build something this morning. And while our intentions may operate from the purest of motives, nothing will build as lasting … nothing will frame as enduring… without the hands of God in the mix.
Here’s the deal. As Christians, we’re tempted to think that “If we build it, He will come.” Sometimes it seems to happen that way. But there’s a danger in thinking that the work of our hands and hearts can contain the holy presence of Almighty God. Our “building” may sound good on paper … might even match up with the truth of God’s Word and even receive the prayerful support of a well-intentioned committee or a home-team advantage.
But unless God builds it, we labor in vain … in our prideful attempts at trying to make God happen rather than simply letting God be. Where he will. When he will. Moving from one tent to another as he will.
You and I are that tent. As New Testament believers, we house the presence of the living God in this covering of our flesh—a temporary covering that will soon trade in for the eternal cloaking of a forever structure. Wherever we walk, he walks. God inhabits our flesh in order to build his kingdom through us, most days in spite of us. Most days we get it backwards. Most days we move ahead of God’s process.
We build and then we ask and then we wonder what went wrong. Why isn’t it working? Why isn’t the all-consuming fire from God descending upon our precious altar of hard work and sacrifice and causing it to burn with all the fervor and purpose of heaven? Why do the offerings of my brother or my sister’s heart seem more pleasing to God? Where is my payoff for doing something for kingdom?
Oh friends, we mean well. Really we do, and I believe that God honors our meaning well. We can’t always see on the front side of our laboring which way it’s going to go. Sometimes we just jump in with all the wild and wooly of a well-meaning trust, and rather than smacking us down immediately, God tenderly esteems the “want to” behind our building. He sees our hearts that are eager to do something … to be something … to work toward something that will matter in the end.
He doesn’t balk at our desire. Instead, he simply asks us for the shaping of that desire. For us to bring our desire before him … to sit with him in uninterrupted pause and consider the “building” together. As the “tent holders” of an extraordinary King and his kingdom therein, we carry the weighty responsibility of bringing Jesus into the mix of our everyday doings.
Wouldn’t it be better to consult him before dragging him into the work of our hands? In doing so, we might save ourselves a heap of heartache and disappointment on the front end of a long labor.
Regardless of your current building project, God is with you. Whether you started it in vain or whether you’ve sensed his fingerprints from the very beginning. God doesn’t abandon us mid-stream. He may not be a fan of our plan (and therefore calling us to change course), but God has and always will be a fan of our hearts. He understands that we won’t always get it right. That sometimes we let our dreams about “building something bigger” eclipse his dreams about “building something lasting.”
And I don’t know how you stand on the issue, but as for me, I’m after a “something” that is going to last. God determines the size of the building, and whether it is a big thing or a small fraction of that big, it will be a perfect fit into a perfect plan that constructs a perfect kingdom within a perfect forever.
I can live with that. Indeed, I can run with this one. Thus, I’d better get out of these pj’s and get on with my moving on. God’s got something to build through me; you too. And while we may not be able to see the fullness of the plan in this moment, we can be confident that there is one. May we all have the good sense and willing heart to sit before our Father this day and ask for it rather than assuming our wisdom and strength enough to build it. Thus, I pray…
Forgive us, Father, when we think ourselves worthy of building our lives in isolation. Your hands build everlasting. Mine build to dust. Keep me mindful and humble of the chasm between the two. Keep me thankful for the grace that covers my willful ignorance accordingly. Amen.
PS: Whew… that’s a lot of saying for someone who doesn’t have much time today! That being said, I believe someone needed to hear it. I certainly did. If you want to take further time with this concept, please read 1 Chronicles 17 and see what God might be saying to you about your current “building” project. Mine looks a whole lot like a WIP (work in progress) near completion, but that’s another post for another day. Shalom.