Friday, August 1, 2014

Build Your House

Soloman had to build the house of God. Not "a" house of God. Not a new church building in a town with seventeen other churches. THE house of God. The physical, material building that would hold the spirit of the living God. With men falling to their knees at the sight of an angel of the Lord, imagine the weight Solomon must have felt. With men falling dead for daring to touch the ark, even as it was falling to the ground, imagine the terror Solomon must have felt.

And so his dad encouraged him. And he says again and again, "Do not be afraid." It's hard to wrap our brains around because very little in our culture is sacred, but Solomon was being charged to provide a home for the Most Sacred of all sacred and his dad knew he needed to hear those words. So this is what David says to his son: "Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished." (1 Chronicles 28:20) He didn't say, "You can do it, son! I believe in you!" He didn't say, "Everyone will help you out. No worries!" He didn't say, "I'm sure you'll figure it out somehow. You're a smart kid." He said, "Do not fear, for God is with you, and He will build this house."

And David wasn't just throwing his confidence around, willy-nilly. He wasn't just saying happy, nice things to make his son not feel terrified at the prospect of doing one of the most important things for his people that had ever been done in the history of ever. David had a confidence in who God is that supported his faith in what God would do. "Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name." (1 Chronicles 29:10-13) David could say to his son, "Do not be afraid", not because he knew he would be around to help or because he had some glimpse of the future or because he wanted to sound encouraging. He said it because he knew God. He knew the greatness and the power and the glory. He knew that whatever God said He would do, He would do. He knew God's power and His might and His reign. His faith in God was secure and He could tell his son, honestly, truthfully, "You can trust this God."

Now, God has never asked me to build a temple. He has never given me an army. He has never commanded me to war. He has never supplied me with stone tablets of His words to share with the people. But He has given me work. He has given me a husband, whom I am called to love and respect. He has given me children, whom I am called to train up in His ways. He has given me a church, a body that I am called to serve with and to serve. He has given me a community, that I am called to bless and to share the hope of Christ with.

And there is more, but even just stop there and the weight of all that responsibility can feel crushing. At the end of any given day, I mean, really, call me around 8 pm any night, and I will be the world's nastiest. I am tired. I am peopled out. I am D-O-N-E, done. I have washed dishes and wiped bottoms and given kisses and told stories and listened to stories and puzzled over money and prayed over hearts and listened to dreams and tried to care for the souls in my path. It takes it all from me, every last bit. It is not in me. It is not in me to build this house, and I simply cannot do it.

And so I wake up this morning, before the rest of my people, and I read David's words: "Do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you." And I kinda start to cry. Okay, David, if you can say that, maybe I can say that too. And that's comforting and all, but it's really the next part. "He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished." (my emphasis added) He will not leave you until all the work is done. You know your work. You see it piled high. He will not leave you until the work is done. All that God has given your hands to do, He will do. And David would tell you, hand cupping your cheeks, eyes honest, "Be strong and courageous and do it." And through a teary smile, you will nod, Okay, yes. Yes, Lord, I will do it.

This work does not end with our hands. It doesn't end with the child-rearing and the homeless-feeding and the church-nursery-working. This work digs deep down into our hearts. Because unless we are transformed by God, our work will fall to shambles all around us. And again, this work is not our own, but the Lord's. "As one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:18-19) Our souls have cement galoshes, and they've been thrown into the lake. We're sunk, and we're stuck. We can thrash all over. We can try to scream. But we won't move an inch and not a soul will hear us.

But the same God who built His temple can make you a temple. The same God who gave Solomon every last piece to build His house has every last piece to repair your heart. And it's not about all the many things you can do for God, just like it wasn't about Solomon raising a building with the sheer force of his will. It is about trust. Solomon heard David's words and he trusted God. And maybe you don't have a dad who encouraged you in the Lord, but you do have a Father who speaks His word. And at the end of the day, at the 8 pm of your night, when you are tired and self-ed out and D-O-N-E, done, when you think it isn't possible for you to get any lower, for your soul to be any more tarnished, for you to screw it up any more than it already is, or when you are ministering to souls who look this dim and dark and dirtied... you need to hear David: "Do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you." And you need to hear Paul: "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

Your heart is the work of the Lord. And He will not leave you until the house is built.

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