If automobiles come with an owner’s manual, surely there must be one for me. No responsible manufacturer would slap a human together without an owner’s manual. Let’s see. Here’s what’s listed in the Quick Reference for my Ford Escape.
Instrument panel/vehicle display … For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. ~ I Corinthians 13:12
Steering … While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” ~ Matthew 17:5
Navigation … Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, ~ Jeremiah 11:4
Sync with my cellular … But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ~ Matthew 6:6.
Remote Key entry/ AKA “intelligent access” … But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, ~ John 1:12
Windshield Wipers … He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”~ Revelation 21:4
Spare tire and tools … In this life you will have trouble I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” ~ John 16:33
“Comfort settings” … Comfort my people, Israel Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. ~ Isaiah 40:1
Fuel/Refueling/Transmission … God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. ~ Gen 1:29
Temperature/climate control … Do not let the sun set on your anger. ~ Eph 4:26
Lighting/Interior Lights/High Beams … I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, the eyes of your heart so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints. ~ Ephesians 1:17-18
Safety restraints … Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. ~ Psalm 139:7-10
Brakes/ Traction control … I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. ~ Psalm 16:8
Towing/Carrying a load … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:30
Roadside Emergencies … Call to me and I will answer you. ~ Jeremiah 33:3
Vehicle care and maintenance … You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31
Extended Warranties … Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5
Cruise control … I can’t find this one in the manual. Perhaps the manufacturer intended for me to keep my eyes on the road and my mind alert for break lights ahead, lane closures or construction zones. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. ~ Matthew 16:24
Ironic, isn’t it, that after a basic driver’s ed course and a few hours behind the wheel, we just step on the gas and learn how to break in order to take the curves without crashing.
What if we read The Manual?
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.