God spoke a word and you were you.
God spoke another word and I was me.
God doesn’t waste breath.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
We have our assignments.
Have you turned yours in yet?
on the first draft? Revising? Editing?
waiting for just the right time?
the really write time to put pen to paper?
What is the assignment God has spoken in you?
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11
God doesn’t leave blanks in the grade Book of Life.
Years ago, I drove past a home construction site where the foundation had been laid but the frame had yet to take shape. A small sign greeted everyone who came to the job site. It read: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” ~ Psalm 127:1
I marveled at that bold expression of faith! What courage it took for that builder to proclaim his faith, on the job, everyday. What a privilege it must have been to work for someone who gave such thanks and demonstrated such humility.
I didn’t have that kind of courage. It felt much safer to keep things of faith inside the church building, so I looked around to learn how to do this God-thing right. The options were a bit overwhelming. Should I try to preach like a pastor? teach like a Sunday school teacher? facilitate like a study group leader? serve meals like the outreach leader? donate more to the budget like the finance leader? How did a Christian behave?
I was all in for the Kingdom, and I wanted to fully invest myself in building God’s house. Let’s beef up this church; it’s the Body of Christ here on earth after all. Better get busy! So I did what newbie’s do; I imitated others in search of the “me” I was supposed to be. Hey, I’ve got lots of gifts! I’ll be the whole house. Bring it on!
But the verse on that sign, Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain, really nagged at me. Whoever placed it probably attended worship regularly, read the Bible, put money in the offering plate and maybe even taught Sunday school, but I didn’t see that. What I saw was this profession of faith on public display at the job site. So, what’s God building in me? If God isn’t building my house, then whatever I am doing to spiff it up is completely in vain.
Talk about vanity, I had been looking around my church wondering which project I was supposed to be in charge of. No, Wendy, I’ve hired the job foreman and contracted for the skilled labor. You’re construction material, just like the rest of these whom I dearly love.
Okay then. Well, a quality house needs quality construction material. So, am I a brick? a cinder block? maybe a board, a joint, a slab of sheet rock, a pail of plaster? Perhaps paint, wall paper, a lighting fixture? Certainly not a roof truss! Maybe I’m cabinetry, an electrical outlet, a shingle or a shutter? Or I could even be sod or a landscape planting. None better than the other, all essential, each an expression of the builder’s careful craftsmanship.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like a brick. Well, okay then, if I’m a brick, then I’ll be the best brick I can be. Not a bad thing, to be a brick in the house God is building: strong, steady, stable, keeping the crumbling to a minimum.
But just when I thought I had this brick-thing figured out, God showed me that He didn’t just make me a brick on the inside wall of his church. My brick faces outside, too. I’m meant to be construction material in all the things I am doing so that others who see, hear, read, or otherwise meet me might see the brick I am and come to know my Builder.
We of the family and lineage of God are all just building materials, sifted, stacked, cemented and nailed, into the house where the very Christ is our cornerstone. That builder’s got a blueprint.
I’m just a brick in that wall.
“All hands on deck!” the captain hollered, as another towering wave crashed over the bow.
The cabin of our barely sea-going vessel was already knee-deep with water. We were bailing as fast as we could, but the storm was beating us down. How do you make headway in a blinding rain when every wave threatens to throw you overboard?
“Cap’n, we’re gonners,” I shouted between bucket fulls. “This little fishing boat’s not…” A mouth full of salt water interrupted me as the next swell tipped us nearly sideways and sent me sprawling. Dragging myself upright, I was surprised to see the death grip I had on my bailing bucket. Nope. Not gone yet.
Thank goodness I’ve got me some sea legs. Always did love being out on the ocean. Those churning waves never bothered me. Never made me queasy either. I’d even tease ’em by standing deck side with feet spread and arms wide to ride the waves like a surfboard. Not a one had ever bucked me off my feet. Until now.
“Just bail, sailor,” shouted the Cap.”Best give that mouth a rest.”
That’s when I saw him – yes him, Jesus, whose bright idea it was to set out across the lake. He was asleep in the stern. SOUND asleep. His head on a pillow, having a nice dream, judging from the peaceful look on his face. Sure, the boat was rocking mightily and the waves were drenching him over and over. But he was paying ’em no mind. Just sleeping.
What was WRONG with this man? “Teacher, can’t you see we’re about to drown here?!”
Another wave, even bigger than the last, submerged the bow and swamped the cabin again. All of us were tossed to our knees as the boat was slammed by the cresting wave. It was a miracle the boat held together at all. Our little crew of twelve was helpless in the face of it.
And there was Jesus coming awake, rising to take in the scene, perfectly balanced and not a hint of falling. No proud bucking bronco rider, he was standing calm and still, like it was nothing, as if there was the firmest of ground under his feet. The look on his face was not panicked or anxious, not worried or rushed. He simply surveyed the splay of men, kneeling waist deep in water to his right and to his left, and frowned.
Then he looked up at clouds and sky and sea and raised a hand to them. “Quiet! Be still!”
And I’ll be damned if the wind didn’t stop and the lake didn’t turn still as a pond on a windless day. And there I was, incredulous and staring, frozen and kneeling at his feet. He shook his head slowly and spoke to me, for I was the closest to hear him. “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
I took the hand that he offered to help me up, and I stood right there. Right in the place where my Teacher stood, I turned to look as he had been looking from the stern of the boat ahead to the bow. The stormy sea still raged to our right and to our left, the ocean roiled, the rains pelted, and the angry clouds persisted. But here where I stood, it was still. Perfectly still. Without exertion, preparation or effort, I could stand as if on solid ground.
“Set a course for straight ahead,” the Teacher said.
Looking around, we could not find him. Not I, nor the Captain, nor the rest. But bailing done and sails raised, the Captain gave the command. “Straight ahead! Steady as she goes.” We set sail with the prevailing wind toward the land on the distant horizon which was our destination. To our right and to our left, I knew the storm raged on. I could hear it. But I didn’t turn to look. My faith depended on it.
I was no longer afraid.
“What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the water obey him!” ~ Mark 4:41