Monday, November 21, 2011

Heading around the bend...

In the constancy of life's changes, it often seems as if tomorrow remains just out of view. Like the display of a video driving game the path zigs and zags without warning at times. To successfully navigate the course requires rapt attention to what is just coming around the bend. In these days of many changes, what is just coming around the bend seems to bring no relief from the pressure of the last year, but I know that the end of the course is my Savior and so the road is worth driving, the race worth running. To paraphrase an old friend: "keeping our eyes on the mark, the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ" is the utmost goal. What tends to attack this deliberate focus is the small (or large, depending on the day) potholes just around the bend. They suddenly appear on life's screen, requiring swift and decisive action or it seems that they would stop all progress if hit head on. Too many times these potholes have turned out to be people, to my chagrin. If they were things, circumstances or other inanimate objects, it would be much easier to deal with. Some would merely require a slight shift in position to avoid contact, or some even would require just hitting them head on with a firm grip on the reality of life. But when people make up the potholes they tend to move, expand and contract and some even follow you around at a similar rate of speed causing constant tension. I have observed that when the local Public Works department handles a pothole they have a very specific procedure they follow. First, the pothole must be identified (cause, origin and extent). Then a plan is developed to repair....removal of loose debris, installation of firm fill, compaction and paving. The former pothole has no memory of being a hole, if properly handled, for there is no room in the former hole that is not occupied by the new firm fill and capped with the paving. The pothole is no longer...perhaps some remember where it was because they hit it once or twice before, but anyone else has no idea of what danger there lay. So it may be with the people potholes in life. The failure, betrayal and intended damage of their impact in life needs identification of the cause, origin and extent, then a swift plan for repair and restoration. Proper fill (God's Word), compaction (Holy Spirit instruction) and the paving (God's Armor) will handle any hole (person, place or thing) we then must just quit driving back to see if the hole is still there.
Speaking of still there...yep, they are. Why, is simple...the hole is not yet filled, compaction not yet complete and paving, still pending. It would seem that the Master Worker of all things public may still be in the process of removing loose, unstable debris from the hole. What appeared to be somewhat solid soil, turned out to be just someone else trying to get a free wedding reception. The seemingly stable massager and contractor turned out to be an avoider of taxes and a general scofflaws. The trusty trustees...anything but! The "pastor" of the local synagogue...collector of potholes and debris. The mousy bride...a source of Satan's influence.... And so the hole has enlarged and been evacuated, a process causing much concern as the hole seems to never be ending in its increase of size, but then the understanding comes that the hole must be free of instability or the hole will shortly appear again regardless of the appearance of the paving. I think oft of asking when will the repairs be complete, but then I am reminded that life IS the Goal just around the bend...and so, I choose to leave the pothole to the Master and just hang on as we are heading around the bend!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Satisfaction of a Hammer Swung Well

For many the success of a day's end is measured by the recline of the chair, the clarity of the big screen or the fullness of the stomach after dinner but for me, in this last month, I have found satisfaction is standing back up with a freshly driven nail beneath me. The dawn brings a new opportunity to race till dusk with hammer, nail gun and chop saw at full speed, pausing only for the essential victuals of the noon hour (which often came at 2:00pm or later). With the finest of crews at my side, a pile of lumber willing to be chopped, nailed and conformed to match the plans we have made much progress and accomplished a great feat. The boys may not like the beginning of the day, but at the end I have seen the gleam of approval in their eyes as well. So many offered so much when there was nothing to do, but when the day came to proceed it just was family left standing in the row of volunteers who stepped forward. And for that I am truly grateful, not only for the willing ones, but also for the confirmation that those who previously spoke only did so for their own good and the selfish need to hear their own words echo in the air. It makes life much clearer to understand who is not and who is!

Speaking of who is .... 20 days or so have produced the shell of what may some day be our house. God willing (and He has been so far) we will complete the exterior, roof what is now sheeted and place the lower roof trusses soon. The crew of young men, my sons, have proven themselves capable even if usually in need of a "small" amount of motivation. I occasionally catch them attempting to take over for me, in a very considerate manner to protect me from danger or the demands of a task they also could do. I am very appreciative of their presence, their help and for the most part, their attitude towards this monumental undertaking. Wouldn't trade them for anything. Much lies ahead and though we remain ready for the impending snow as a result of our collective work, it will nicer to see the metal roofing at its intended location doing its intended duty.

Speaking of duty....It seems at times that the future of the Stirling City Church remains very much up in the air and that is absolutely true. It remains in God's hands how much longer I continue, how much longer we can pay the bills and how much longer we can effectively impact this community. I still continue in my role, not in duty or obligation, but rather with great thankfulness that God has allowed me to do so. Every day and every challenge just reinforce the reality of the cost of allowing Christ to lead. No longer can it be what I want, when I want it and how I want it, but rather it all must remain in His plan, His will and His time. The separation of the goats who have moved on to their greener pastures of painted grass and calm water facades may or may not be complete, but the confidence that God is still in control will always remain the guiding force in all we do.