My An Arkie's Faith column from the May 24, 2023, issue of The Polk County Pulse.
The rain beating down on my shop's metal roof was so loud that conversation wasn't possible. The downpour was so heavy that I could not see the highway in front of my shop. A flash river was running down my driveway. Water streamed from the ceiling in several places in the shop bay where I was trying to work. "I hope this downpour will be over soon," I thought. But it wasn't over soon. The deluge continued. After hours of hard rain, an inch of water was on my shop floor.
By the time the rain ended, nine inches of rain had fallen. Rainwater flooded the floor throughout the shop. I knew that my old shop building had several leaks, but it had never flooded before. I realized that I was going to have to get my roof repaired. But we did not have another heavy rainfall for a few months, and I put it out of my mind. It was the year 2020, and it seemed that there were always more pressing things.
In November of that year, I had the roof replaced. Hearing the rain on my new roof and no leaks in my shop was delightfully satisfying. While I was reading the book of Ecclesiastes, I found this little gem; "When you are too lazy to repair your roof, it will leak, and the house will fall in." Ecclesiastes 10:18 (GNT) "That is a little bit too close to home," I thought.
I started working on my cold, drafty shop in the spring of last year. The building was old and needed updating. In several places, the ceiling had fallen. Some of the siding had rotted away, and you could see outside. The old, ill-fitting garage doors left significant gaps. I would stuff old blankets into the cracks to try and keep some heat in the shop. It wasn't easy trying to keep the shop warm.
This winter, I worked in a warm, dry shop. After replacing many rotten studs and installing new insulation and siding, the project was complete with new garage doors and foam sprayed on the ceiling. I decided to continue the shop renovation this spring by repairing and remodeling the office and bathroom.
When Terry began the project, he immediately ran into problems. Every wall was out of square and out of plumb. I jokingly told him, "The original builders must not have had a square or a level." The project proceeded slowly as he dealt with the compromises necessary to deal with the poor original construction.
When Terry had completed the walls, he and his dad began laying out the tile floor. They did a masterful job of laying the tile to look square even though the rooms were out of square. Watching them work, I thought of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 3:10 (VOICE). "Like a skilled architect and master builder, I laid a foundation based upon God's grace given to me. Now others will come along to build on the foundation. Each serves in a different way and is to build upon it with great care."
Whoever built my shop all those years ago was not a skilled architect or master builder. Whether new construction or renovations, building is a process that requires vision, planning, investment, and time. You must know what you want to build, prepare plans, and use proper construction tools and methods. If you don't, anyone who has to work after you will have problems.
The same principles hold true as we build our lives. "Without the help of the Lord it is useless to build a home or to guard a city. It is useless to get up early and stay up late in order to earn a living. God takes care of his own, even while they sleep." Psalms 127:1,2 (CEV) God wants us to be builders, but without his help, we will do a poor job.
If we try to build our lives without his help, God asks us, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations? Tell me if you know. Who set its measurements? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring tape on it? On what were its footings sunk; who laid its cornerstone." Job 38:4-6 (CEB)
Jesus explained the importance of building correctly in Luke 6:47-49 (CJB) "Everyone who comes to me, hears my words and acts on them — I will show you what he is like: he is like someone building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on bedrock. When a flood came, the torrent beat against that house but couldn't shake it, because it was constructed well. And whoever hears my words but doesn't act on them is like someone who built his house on the ground without any foundation. As soon as the river struck it, it collapsed and that house became a horrendous wreck!"
Here are three areas of construction God has assigned to us. First, the Bible instructs us to build up ourselves spiritually. "But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ." Jude 1:20 (MSG)
God also calls us to build up the church. "Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church." 1 Corinthians 14:12 (NIV) Today, too many Christians seem to be tearing down the church instead of building it up.
Finally, God wants us to build up each other. "Don't let any unwholesome words escape your lips. Instead, say whatever is good and will be useful in building people up, so that you will give grace to those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NTE) "So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (VOICE)
Gentle Reader, are you fulfilling your responsibility as a builder? Are you building up your spiritual strength, Jesus' church, and the people God has placed in your life? "As others build on the foundation (whether with gold, silver, gemstones, wood, hay, or straw), the quality of each person's work will be revealed in time as it is tested by fire. If a man's work stands the test of fire, he will be rewarded." 1 Corinthians 3:12-14 (VOICE) With God's help, you can be a quality builder.