Category Archives: Blog

Can You See Your Cage?

Captain has turned three now. We aren’t exactly sure when he was born, except that it was March, 2012. He came to us as a nine month old pup who had been taught a few tricks. The trick I especially like is if I say, “Crate”, he will go get in his crate and wait for me to shut the door and lock him in it. He expects a treat for doing it, but still he willingly gets into the crate.

The crate is a safe place for Captain to be. We don’t trust Captain to behave himself when we aren’t around. He isn’t allowed on the furniture, he isn’t supposed to eat food off the table or counters, and he is NEVER allowed in our bed. These are all things Captain will do if he isn’t being monitored. So when we leave, I say, “Crate.”


The crate has been in the corner of the hallway tucked behind the door for a couple of years, but in February we refinished the floors, and I moved the crate into the sun room. I moved a table into the space that used to house the crate and added a small lamp to light the hallway.

Now when I tell Captain to get into the crate, he goes under the table and into the corner protected by the door. He will patiently sit there fully expecting his treat, even though he could walk right back out from under the table.

Sometimes I, too, sit in a cage with invisible bars. I react to a situation in the same way I always have. I give way to anger because that has always been the response I turned to. I eat too much because I don’t want to admit that something is gnawing on me from the inside. Pride, vanity, selfishness, lying, cheating, lack of love, frustration, evil thoughts. . . Each of us has our own cage. Perhaps, like me, you have many cages.Captcage2

I return to the cage because I can’t behave outside of it, but the truth is . . . God moved the cage and I am sitting in the open, fully free to move about on my own. On Easter morning over 2,000 years ago, Jesus opened the door to the cage and walked out. Ever since the cage has been empty.

Empty of the guilt, empty of the disgrace, empty of the punishment.

Stretch your arms out. Walk forward. There is no more cage.


“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4


Forward Roses

He was late. I paced up and down the stairs while my employers looked on.

“Are you sure you should go out with him?” Charlie asked me.

The time ticked by and my anger was growing. Perhaps I was a diva, but you didn’t keep me waiting. It showed a lack of respect, an indifference to the importance of my time and feelings. A few minutes was understandable, reasonable. But he was nearly an hour late at this point.

Just as I made up my mind to slam the door in his face if he ever showed it around here again, he trotted up the walkway with yellow roses in hand.

“Sorry I’m late. There was a funeral and the florist was running behind. I had to wait for the flowers until they could get it all straightened out,” he said with an apologetic smile. “You said yellow is your favorite.”

That was our second official date, followed by many, many more.

Today I cleaned out the trunk made by Matt’s grandfather so long ago. The baby blanket that wrapped me up as a child lay near the bottom surrounded by own children’s baby blankets. Pictures of vacations, friends’ announcements, and Cub Scout paraphernalia were scattered among thick albums of picture and scrap books. In a folder, gently placed between two sheets of paper, lay a yellow rose, dried, withered, and brown.

The card was still intact telling me that he was looking forward to the next year. He added a scripture at the signature. Philippians 3:13-14. I searched through the tabletop Bible until I found the passage: “I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”roses

Taking a deep breath, I sighed. I am so glad I forgot his tardiness and instead looked forward. If I hadn’t, the red rose that lay beneath the yellow might never have been. There under the first rose my husband ever gave me was the rose he brought when he asked me to marry him.

What do you need to forget and leave behind so that you can press forward, always toward the goal?

Twenty-Five Years of Sex

I spent Sunday looking at tiny little straps that tangled and twisted leaving me with no idea how or where you were to wear the item. I was attending a lingerie shower for a young lady from our church.

At first I thought it was odd for a bunch of 35-50-some year old women to be at such an event, but then I realized who better to teach you about sex than the church ladies!?033

Sex is a great form of exercise and performed properly it burns off a lot of calories, but that is only the honeymoon sex. Let me tell you about twenty-five years of sex.

Twenty-five years of sex means comforting the loss of a job, a grandparent, an opportunity. Sex can be a funeral procession: slow, sad and somber. It wipes tears, holds close, offers protection.

Twenty-five years of sex means passionate exultation over the completion of a degree, the purchase of a home, the publication of a book. Sex can be fireworks, birthday cake, and Christmas. It’s exciting, fun enjoyment.

Twenty-five years of sex means easiness in each other’s company. Sex can be boring, habit, rote. It doesn’t care when your body makes noises after giving birth, it understands that you don’t look like you did, it loves you to your very core even though you said mean things yesterday.

Twenty-five years of sex means surprises, yes, still surprises. Sex can be laughter, adventure, anticipation. It means wearing something special or nothing at all, sending love letters, passionate kisses before leaving for work, and special phone calls.

Twenty-five years of sex is picnics, long walks in the woods, holding hands on the shore, and watching the stars come out at night. Twenty-five years of sex is wondering how bills will be paid, if having this baby is going to hurt as much as I think, and if that baby is really ready to fly the nest.

Twenty-five years of sex is the beginning of understanding God. It is relationship that lasts beyond looks, remains even when secrets are known, and still delights in growing closer.

Twenty-five years of sex is a gift that gets opened a little at a time.




Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate“I remember the first time we met,” Greg was saying. “There was a terrible snow storm and Mom was home from work. I must have been four ‘cause it was right after we moved here. Anyway, she bundled me up like an Eskimo and shoved me out the door for some fresh air. I think she was tired of all my horsing around,” he chuckled.

            The hot steam circled slowly above the ceramic mug he had wrapped his long, slender fingers around. He held the cup near his face breathing in the sweet aroma of chocolate and marshmallow. His eyes closed gently as a smile played at the corner of his mouth.

He exhaled and started again, “I met Sarah that day, too. All of the neighbor kids were out playing; I suppose all the moms on the street were ready for a break. Sarah offered to let me ride down the hill on her sled. She showed me how to steer by pushing on the front bar with my feet. We flew down the hill twenty times at least. Sarah was bigger, of course, so she pulled the sled up the hill. She always was a trooper.”

Greg rearranged his feet on the stool and wrapped the blanket a little more snugly around his legs. “Do you need more chocolate?” he asked the man in the overstuffed armchair.

“No, I’m fine, thanks; mine’s still full. I remember that day too. Your mom invited all of the kids in for hot chocolate.”

“Yes, she did,” Greg agreed thoughtfully. “It was the first time I had met any of the kids and I think she was trying to help me fit in. You were there, too, sitting across from Jim Harvey.”

A quiet knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. Greg turned in the chair and saw Sarah peeking in, “I need to come in for a bit, sorry.”

“No, no, come on in,” Greg motioned for her to join them.

Sarah walked noiselessly into the dim room. “I smell chocolate,” she sniffed.

“Marshmallows, too,” Greg nodded. “They smell better than the flowers her office sent.”

“They’re pretty though,” Sarah said as she rearranged the long stems of pink carnations and baby’s breath. “They remind me of school dances,” she smiled.

“Hmm, my first school dance was a winter formal,” Greg reminisced. “It started snowing during the dance and really poked it down! Mom hadn’t taught me how to drive in snow yet, so when I went out to the car I was scared.” Greg sipped his cocoa and then licked marshmallow crème off his upper lip.

“I used the pay phone in the gym to call Mom so she could come get me, but she told me I had to learn sometime and no time like the present. Mrs. Harvey was driving Jim home, he wasn’t old enough yet to drive, so she told me to follow her and stay in her tracks.”

“And we had hot chocolate when you got home that time, too,” the man nodded.

“Yes, you’re right,” Greg agreed.

“Hmm?” Sarah raised her head to look at Greg.

“Hot chocolate,” he repeated. “I had hot chocolate when I got back home. Mom had it all laid out on the table. I guess she was nervous about me driving home, too.”

“You have no idea,” Sarah sighed. “She was always nervous about you driving, and then you took off for college in the mountains. She and I shared a lot of hot cocoa that first year.”

“Of college?” Greg asked.

“No,” Sarah shook her head, “the first year of this; the last year of college.”

“Right,” Greg said as he looked at the small woman wrapped in quilts lying on the metal bed by the windows. “It was good of you to watch over her while I was away. She always liked you. She’s always had a knack for knowing who the good people are.”

The room grew quiet again. Frost bit at the window panes trying to eat its way into the darkening house. The two men sipped their mugs of chocolate and watched the bony form of the woman shift under the weight of the quilts.

“I’ll stay as long as you like,” the older man said.

“I know,” Greg said looking away from the bed.

Sarah glanced at Greg and walked over to the hot pot on the sideboard. “I think I will join you for some after all,” she said as she poured a steaming mug and added three large marshmallows.

“You really load it on, huh?” Greg grinned as she sat down on the piano bench that had been pulled in for extra visitors.

“I love a good mug. Your mom taught me how to do it perfectly,” Sarah added as she inhaled the pleasant aroma. “It warms you from the heart, she always said. She was right, too,” Sarah smiled at Greg. “It’s nearly time, you know.”

“Yes, I know. I just need one more mug,” Greg whispered.

Sarah took his favorite cup and refreshed it from the pot. “Here,” she said, “One more.”

They slowly sipped the richness until every last drop was drained. The man was standing by her bedside now and he scooped her slender frame up in his arms. She barely stirred.

“I’ll join you for some more chocolate whenever you like,” the gentleman said tenderly as he turned to walk out the door.

“She’s gone,” Sarah’s voice cracked as she put the cup tenderly on the table.

“I know,” Greg said to both of them, as he began pouring another cup.

 Let my prayer be accepted as sweet-smelling incense in your presence. Let the lifting up of my hands in prayer be accepted as an evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2

God’s Glory on the New Jersey Turnpike

So a few days ago I told you God was sending me to New Jersey, and I pulled a definite Moses on him. I found many reasons not to go, the best one being it SNOWS there! I was having a dream, but my astonishment at going to NJ of all places was very real.        New Jersey

Now we are in the season of Lent, a time that, for me, is focusing on my willingness to follow wherever God may send. The great thing about God, besides the whole GOD thing, is that he doesn’t ask of us anything he wouldn’t do himself.

What I do is nothing compared to what God does. I take care of my kids. I read to the elderly. I sponsor a child in Swaziland. I pass the homeless on the street and seldom even notice. I see the handicapped and perhaps stop to hold a door open. I see a broken-down car and heartlessly offer no help.

God helps everyone. He sends the sunshine and the rain on the just and the unjust. He cares for the widows and orphans. He heals the sick and lame. He offers salvation to the stinky, smelly, drug addict and the alcoholic and the wife beater and the child molester. . . and to blind me.

Jesus washed nasty toenails yellowed with fungus. He cleaned filth-encrusted feet that stank of the sewage in the streets. NASTY (much worse than New Jersey!), but Jesus did it. He drew no lines. He placed his hands on the leprous, sat with the town prostitute, and cried over the hurting masses that thronged him. Why? John 17:4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”

I have a friend who often goes through the drive-thru for breakfast at McDonald’s. It is a large, double-lane drive-thru and so there are several customers pulling through at once. My friend will pay for his meal and then also for the customer in line behind him. That is a very kind thing to do, certainly helping the person behind him to start off the day with a little beam of sunshine. One might even say that my buddy looks like Jesus at that moment.

My friend, however, is the first to admit that he stops looking like Jesus as soon as he pulls forward, because he looks in the rear-view mirror of his car. Why? To make sure that the people behind know who did this for them. Jesus gave everything he had and asked only that his Father be given the glory.

That is the second initiative of my Lent mission this year. I want to be ready to go wherever and whenever the Master should send, but I want to do it only because of who he is, for his glory. I don’t want to do it to help someone else. I don’t want to do it to be a blessing for someone. I don’t even want to do it because God asks me to do it. I want to do it only because God is GOD.


Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

Cleaning Lent

Great Britain Trip 5-14 289Lent season has sprung on me like Hobbes waiting for Calvin after school. Hunkered down under a sheet of ice, it is difficult to imagine that spring is around the corner. Oddly enough, I am wearing my Lent sweater from last year on this, the first day, of Lent. By Easter last year I was sure I would never wear it again!

I want to celebrate Lent again this year, so I have a new sacrifice: I plan to live as if this world is not my home. “Excuse me,” you ask. “how do you plan to do that?” Well here is my thought process:

I have lived in this house for ten years. Ten years is a very long time in the life of a student/preacher. So for the first fourteen years of our marriage we moved seven times. This is the longest I have ever lived anywhere, except for the house I grew up in, which lasted eleven years.

Being a rolling stone really does keep you free of moss: read that as you don’t keep much junk around. Staying put for ten years while your babies grow up, develop interests, and become hoarders, means you are not ready to pack up. In fact, you dread the very idea of such.

For those who suddenly gasped in fear or excitement, NO we are not moving!

But as I thought about Jesus and the Lenten season, I realized that it is not only about his forty-day temptation in the desert wilderness, but his lifelong temptation to make this world home, and the final sacrifice that allowed him to once again experience his eternal and rightful home. And that was what led me to the conclusion that I have enjoyed this home too long. I have become comfortable and complacent.

I had a dream recently that I was having a conversation with God. He asked me to go somewhere for him. I gladly agreed to go anywhere he would ask. I even made suggestions: Africa, Europe, Asia. . . Each was brushed aside until God interrupted and said, “I want you to go to New Jersey.”

“What?! New Jersey!?” I exclaimed. I came up with all sorts of reasons that I should NOT go to New Jersey – crime, traffic, snow, ugly industrialization – until finally I acquiesced and agreed to go to New Jersey. But when I awoke I began to look around and realize that I am not living like I am ready to go at the beck and call of my Master.

So that is why I am spending this Lent cleaning. I have made a list of forty places that need to be cleaned out. They run the gamut from big endeavors (the barn and workshop are going to take a while) to small items (the make-up and hair accessories drawer) and even to the technical (email and my computer programs as well as my phone pictures).

The lessons I learned last year are still knocking around my brain, which thankfully means the clothes drawers and closet shouldn’t be too difficult to clear out, and I am anxious to see what I learn this year. If you too are feeling like where you are is just right, then Goldilocks, you might want to grab a garbage bag and start cleaning with me! Let me know if you want to join in and compare notes.

This world is not my home. I’m just a’passing through . . .

So Many Books

nostalgic_books_and_picture_2_166374The moving charges were based on weight; the estimate approximated by the number of rooms in the  house. We had forgotten to add Matt’s work office where he kept most of his books. The actual charge was much higher than expected!

I guess that is a positive aspect of Kindles and Nooks; they make moving less expensive! But I really enjoy a paper and ink book. The smell of new pages, the crispness of breaking the binding (don’t tell my husband!), the weight of the book pressing against my thumb as I hold my breath in sweet anticipation are all part of the joy of reading.

The part I don’t like about reading is finding a good book. I don’t want to waste my time reading something that passes time but leaves it empty. I want reading to fill me up like a Thanksgiving feast saturating my soul with warmth and satisfaction, desiring to eat more but waiting because I still need to digest the first helping.

Last year I decided I would read a book every two weeks, even if no one had recommended the book to me. I would plunge into that new dish with only a cursory glance at the recipe and hope for the best. Here is what I read and what I decided, in case you prefer your books be served as “Chef’s Choice”.

Devotions of a Gerbil: Yes, I read my own book- to a group of elderly people at the nursing home. They didn’t know it was mine and they spent many mornings laughing and nodding. Try reading it with a group and discussing the questions. This one actually does come as a “Chef’s Choice”! ; )

The Good Earth: I read it every few years just to remind me that there is nothing new under the sun. A great book portraying Chinese culture in the early 1900s. Definitely recommend.

The Wizard of Oz: It’s not like the movie! Take it or leave it.

The Red Badge of Courage: Growing up doesn’t end when you become an “adult” and lessons in living and dying hide behind each tree. Have to be in the mood for this one.

The Giver: OK I have read this so many times I’ve lost count. Just go read it!!

Son: The sequel to The Giver; it isn’t as good, but still a worthy read. I mean, really, does anyone have two fabulous, all-time classics living inside of them? Lowry is a terrific author, though. Worth reading.

Jane Eyre: Hadn’t read this since high school but remembered I liked it. I still do. Age makes you read it with new eyes. An oldie but still a goodie, which means it has a lot of butter but that’s what makes it taste so good!

Frankenstein: I admit I had never read it and saw no reason to, but it was one of those “I’m teaching it so I guess I better read it” books. SO GLAD I DID! It’s deep, people.

Animal Farm: Another one that improves with age. I got it in high school; I felt it as an adult.

The Kite Runner: Shocking. Scary. Frustrating. Angry righteousness. I recommend it but I didn’t like it.

The Tempest: If you are into Shakespeare but don’t have much time, this is the one of choice. Imagine all of your mistakes meeting you on a seaside cliff and smacking you in the face. Good read.

Centering: Non-fiction book that examines life as clay on a potter’s wheel. It took me a while, because I was busy and because it needs time to digest, but it was worth it, though I didn’t care for the poetry portion.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay: I know I’m behind the times. They came out when I was busy raising children. If you didn’t get to read them earlier, there’s no time like the present. I mean it! Go NOW and get them. You will stay up all night reading. Guaranteed. Chef’s Choice!!

Loves God, Likes Girls: Autobiography. Easy read. Quick read. Made me think, but didn’t answer any questions. Good place to start if you are wondering about Christian homosexuals. It’s a salad so don’t expect too much.

When God Talks Back: Still working through this one; I’ll add my final response to next year’s list, but so far it is heavy and filling. It is non-fiction written by a social anthropologist looking at why evangelicals believe God hears and talks back. I’m reading it slowly because I have to think hard about it, but so far I feel impressed.

The Book Thief: One of my favorites this year! Definitely will read it again. It will make you sob from the vast beauty of the human plight to live and love no matter what. Chef’s Choice!!

The Wide Sargasso Sea: After reading Jane Eyre I decided to try this one about Mr. Rochester’s crazy wife, Bertha. It’s ok. Not a complete waste of time, but if you want sweet potatoes and peas are offered, you might be disappointed.

Anna Karenina: I’m not sure what all the hype is. Labelled a classic by those who know, but crossed off my menu.

Night: Autobiography. I liked it. If you are into the Holocaust genre you’ll enjoy it.

The New Testament NIV: Menu staple here. It won’t be cut; depend on it.

How To Win at College: Read it to get the boy ready for moving on. It had some good suggestions; I agreed with some of it, disagreed with other parts. The boy read it as part of an agreement to send him away to school and he seems to have taken away several bits.

Lent Guide: It was just that. Though it was helpful, I will look for a different one next time.

Home to Harmony: Second time reading this one. This time I read it to the old folks and we all enjoyed it. A light read for when you want a chef”s salad.

40 Days to the Joy-filled Life: The owner of our restaurant liked it better than the chef, but it was ok. If you are looking for a self-help book that still has some traces of Christianity, this is a good one.

God’s Great Blessings: A daily devotional book. Each week has a topic to explore. Good, not great.

A Year with Jesus: Another daily devotional. Anything by Peterson is thought provoking, but if you want something with substance, this is a little scarce. Good addition to other studies, not enough on it’s own. I guess it is a good appetizer, but order something else for the main course.

Around the World in 80 Days: Easy read, mind candy, weird ending. A cheeseburger and fries, nothing fancy.

Hope’s Boy: Autobiography of a man who grew up in a foster home and in the system of the 70s. Heart-wrenching and eye-opening. Good read.

The 21 Most Effective Prayers of the Bible: I enjoyed this book because it gave a biblical example of a prayer and then a modern example of the same prayer at work. Good read.

Marriage Matters: I read this to prepare for a class Matt and I were teaching. I’m not one for marriage self-help books, but this one actually had some meat to it. If you are looking for a little encouragement and insight, it’s a good one.

1000 Days in Siberia: Autobiography I found at a library sale. Worth the money and time! I have read many WW2 books over the years, but never one by a Japanese POW. It was interesting to see the war from a different perspective, and to learn the culture that got this man where he was. . . just amazing. I enjoyed the story and was surprised like a little twist of lime in the rice.

Infidel: Another autobiography, but very difficult to read because of the events. An African Muslim woman retraces her life and explains her commitment to dispelling any myths about the way women are treated. Brutal. I had a hard time reading it, though I feel more informed and think it is good I did read it in the way that an anemic person eats the liver because they know it will help.

Riding the Bus with My Sister: Autobiography that was actually quite interesting. If you know anyone with a mentally handicapped sibling, read this and see what types of issues your friend faces. Worth the time to read.

As you can see, I read more than a book every two weeks. It was like chocolate, once I got started I was hooked. At least I didn’t gain any weight from it! Enjoy a good read on me, and let me know if you have anything to suggest for me. I have already started my new list!


Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.— Buddha

 053     I am working on a lecture that considers the idea of how many people you touch without ever knowing. While I was working this morning, my husband came in to tell me that Ted Waller had passed away earlier in the morning.

Ted, or Mr. Waller as I called him, was the father of my mother-in-law’s dear friend Carol. Ted was raised in Texas during the Great Depression by his single mother. He sold Bibles door to door where he met his angel Mary in the northern panhandle of Almost Heaven West Virginia. They married and raised a family, part of which was Carol.

Carol and her husband developed a life-long friendship with my in-laws that resulted in strong ties between their children. Carol’s husband, Larry, was a preacher. His influence on my husband spread through the years until my husband also became a preacher. Now here I am living in Greenville, NC as a preacher’s wife. It might all be due to Ted; who knows?

If I have impacted you in some small way, it might be because seventy years ago a young man, determined to spread the news of Jesus and his love of the Lord, listened to the call and knocked on that door with Bible in hand. Ted’s influence will continue to spread for many years to come. Who will be touched by you seventy years from now?

Hair. It is the topic of musicals, the premise of jokes, and big business for many. Hair has to be cut, clipped, and curled. It is made into wigs, washed, and woven. Hair tells your age, says where you are from, and what your cultural ties are.

            But what hair doesn’t say is what you are on the inside.

I don’t like long hair on males. It is probably a cultural thing for me. Where I grew up men did not have long hair. So when I see men with long hair, I identify them as feminine. I know logically that it isn’t true, but my past still speaks loudly.

I like hair that doesn’t draw attention to itself. It should be clean and kempt, shining with good health, but it should not scream, “Look at me!” My sons do not hold the same beliefs.

The older son has beautiful, soft and bouncy brown hair. When he was about fifteen he played a character from the early 1800s. He was in a local theater troupe and so I allowed him to have longer hair for the part. The only problem was that he didn’t want to cut the hair afterward. It wasn’t until he discovered that local employers have similar ideas about hair as his mother that he agreed to cut it.


            The issue of length was solved, but the issue of color was just starting. He wanted blue hair, yes blue. And I, his mother who loved his beautiful, brown bouncy hair, agreed to color it blue – on more than one occasion. We never stripped the hair, so the blue came out sort of like a dark navy, and I tried to imagine he was Asian with really, really black hair. It was ok; I survived.

         023   The second son has luxurious, curly blond hair. When he was little he was what you call a tow-head.  Now it has turned a darker blond, almost brown. He wants it to be black. I guess it is better than blue, but I miss my sweet blond boy who looked like his mama. I agreed to color it black, but I made lots of comments about how ugly it is and I hurt his feelings.

            Then the older son came home from college for Thanksgiving and he had red hair; not an auburn or carrot-top red, but Solo-cup red! I told him he looked like Raggedy Andy. I don’t think he knew who that is.

            I asked what professors at his conservative Christian college said about his hair and the response was negative; no big surprise there. They have the same past as I do: hair should not draw attention to itself.

            But what I wonder is if the professors, the employers, even the family members are able to look at my walking Solo cup commercial and see a giant of a kid who wanted to help heart patients.

            You see, when he was working at a local restaurant there was a fund drive to raise money for kids who are heart patients. He bought brownie mix with his own money, baked the brownies, and then sold them at the restaurant to make money for the kids. Then he challenged the other workers to help with the bake sale. They offered to help IF he would color his hair whatever color they said. He agreed and last fall, while he was away at school, the other employees, after raising all the funds, called him on it.

J hair

            I still don’t like men with long hair, and I really wish my kids would keep the hair color God bestowed upon them, but what I really LOVE about my kids is that they are so much more than hair. I will try to remember that as I color that blond hair black again.

            But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the HEART.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Under Construction

There is a new apartment complex going in along a road I drive nearly every day. I watched intrigued this summer as dirt was pushed aside and a reservoir was dug. Large pipes were inserted into concrete foundations, walls began to rise, and men in hardhats wielded hammers big enough to see from the road. It was a very busy place.

Summer turned to autumn, and now winter’s cold winds blow across the flat coastal plains. The first of the apartments are completed. They look nice with colorful siding and brick false fronts. IMG_20150113_143528390_HDR

But some of the buildings are still in the process of being built. Insulation sheets disrupt the view, large mud flats mar the grassy scenery, and the reservoir is littered with construction materials.

As I drive by I imagine myself as the “still under construction building” facing the new building. I can see how beautiful and sturdy the new building is, and I can see all of the flaws of my own structure. How can I ever compare to the new building, I wonder. Look at my ugly insulation. Look at my covered windows. There’s no way I will ever match up to a building like that one. Who would ever want to live in me? 

IMG_20150113_143818446The new building  reassures me that it didn’t start out this way. “You weren’t around this past summer to see the ugly mud mounds, the hammering hardhats, the bare, rising walls of  my now finished building. Be patient: You, too, will one day be a finished building.”

“BUT,” the building goes on to say, “I am not yet perfect. You see that home there in front of us? It has been here for many, many years. People come and visit it, children play in its yard, and warm lights glow in it at night.”

Sometimes I am guilty of looking at more mature Christians and thinking, I will never be able to be like that. But I have to remember that I wasn’t there to see the days that they were just being built. Ground that they thought was sturdy was suddenly pushed aside and cleared. A foundation was laid and then bare wood and insulation showed. And even now, as they appear to be perfect to me, they look at another who has been in the subdivision longer than themselves, and they know they are not yet what they will one day be. We are all being built, and then renovated, by the Master Carpenter.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6