Saturday, July 19, 2008

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Isn't it Strange?

Isn't it strange, that princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and common-folk like you and me,
are builders for eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,
a shapeless mass and a Book of Rules;
and each must make 'ere time has flown,
a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

Life is often strange, isn't it?  We are born into this world without being asked if we want to be here or not.  And then, we make it up as we go and "do the best we can with what we've got."  I'm not sure what any of us were expecting when we started this journey but somehow, it never seems to me, anyway, to quite go as expected or turn out the way that we had hoped.  The biggest culprit in all of this seems most often to be my expectations.  And when life doesn't meet our expectations, a nasty thing called stress comes along for the ride.

I think that there are at least two things that you and I need to do.  The first thing is to become more like we were when we started this journey.  Like a child.  Do you think it an accident that it is called being born again?  Children have simple expectations.  They simply trust that someone will clothe and feed them and that they will have everything that they need.  And, the fact that you are reading this means that someone, in their own way, did that for you!  If we do that for our children, Jesus says, "how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11).  Paying special attention to the scripture reference of this passage, I can't help but laugh a little at what my family calls the heavenly 7-Eleven!  And, in the same way that that convenience store's doors are always open, God's door is always open and I need to make sure that my childlike door to my heavenly Father is still open.  "The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:15).

The second thing that we need to do is to recognize that this is not all that there is.  That all of us, as the poem says, "are builders for eternity."  It is a great stress reliever to realize that I don't have to meet my every expectation in this short life that I have to live, nor am I supposed to!  I have an eternal life and I need to see what is happening here in that light.  At the same time, we are not just to coast through this life, it is extremely important to recognize that I am building something — myself and others — that will last forever.  That changes everything that I do into something important.  "Set your mind," says Colossians 3:2, "on things above, not on earthly things."  Get God's long-range picture.

God has given me something to build with - they are called gifts and abilities.  We all need to find them, dust them off if need be, sharpen them, and build.  God has given me something to work with — me.  It is all that you and I have and it is enough.  Thank God that He, at the same time and together with each of us is forming the "shapeless mass" into what I need to become —  He is the potter and I am the clay.  And God has given me his instruction book.  Sounds like some pretty important reading.  What will I do with it?  What will you?

The foundation has already been laid.  It is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).  There is no other foundation worthy of building upon.  The only question that remains is simple:  as we "build for eternity," what will we build for ourselves and others?  Upon examination, there may be some things that I need to tear down and rebuild according to the Code.  I may need to confess that I have spent way too much time on something of little value.  Do whatever it takes, today.

Are we building that which will last or that which will not?  A stumbling block?  Or a stepping stone?

If we try and build something for today or tomorrow only, we will always be disappointed.  If we build for forever, we will have that long to enjoy that thing that we have built together with the Master Craftsman.  And, we will be surrounded by all of the others that we have built up along the way, others that we have enabled to build for eternity too.

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