Construction: God at Work
If you hang a left out my apartment door and walk down the hill to the 7-11, you’ll find a construction site humming with activity. Jonathan and I have visited there often these last few months, and he has delighted in the frequent sights of his favorite cast of characters: Digger, Bulldozer, and Cement Truck. Sometimes we’ll pick up a cheap snack at the kombini (the local name for the convenience store) and sit on the staircase across from the site, munching on our chocolate-covered wheat puffs and watching a building being created before our eyes.
It’s fun for a toddler because there’s always something to watch at a construction site. Something is always happening. People, boards, equipment – they’re always moving. The whole area resounds with the din of hard work. I’m not sure we ever saw anyone with their feet kicked up eating chocolate-covered wheat puffs. There was a job to be done - probably a deadline looming over them - and the activity we observed there reflected the purpose and intention of that job.
One particular evening, I was back at home feeling frustrated. I was feeling like learning another language was harder than I wanted, and definitely taking more time and effort than I wanted. I was quietly second-guessing the usefulness of our move to Japan. I was irritated by lack of faith and dwindling resolve in the face of difficulty. I felt stretched beyond what the hours in my day could realistically accomplish. I felt like I was barely reaching “below-average” at any roles I was undertaking.
As God’s sweet providence would have it, our nightly reading contained the sharpening and soothing words of 1 Peter 2:4-5:
“As you come to him, a living stone, you yourselves are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
The words made me wince a bit, because as I read them, I was taken back to that construction site. I realized that building something is not like getting a set of Lego Duplo for your toddler. With Lego Duplo, you just pick up one block and place it right next to the other block. Then put one on top. And another. And another. It’s so nice and tidy; those chunky pieces just fit perfectly on your hand, and perfectly in line with the others.
That construction site was nothing at all like Lego Duplo. Not a single piece of raw material that came into that site was used in its original state. Every item was hammered, drilled, sawn, sanded, churned, bent, molded, fired, or broken in some way to make it serve the purpose that the blueprint dictated. I realized as I read 1 Peter 2 that building something is an inherently destructive process. The blueprint God is using - namely, a holy priesthood through Christ - will necessitate the destruction of the materials in some way before they can be used the right way.
So all that discomfort I feel when challenging situations bring up the muck from the bottom of my heart? All that churning? Oh, that’s just the Great Architect bringing situations into my life that change these raw materials.
All that annoyance with cultural differences and preferences? That pounding into the boards of my heart? He’s at work again.
That stretching and sanding? That call to selfless service of my family and people around me? That torch that solders the rebar, literally melting it so it can be reworked? That fire that fills my eyes with fear and causes me to doubt His goodness? He’s supervising the comings and goings of the construction happening in my heart.
With this perspective, we can endure the frustrations, annoyances, challenges and difficulties of life a bit more easily, knowing that they are being used under His watchful eye. Not a single nail hammered was wasted, no board sawn incorrectly. Every suffering and challenge that comes my way is another tool that works toward his end goal: a holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.