As I was growing up, the village I lived in was not consumed with building houses on every spare patch of land. At the end of our cul-du-sac were a couple of small fields before you came to the main road in or out of the village. It was boggy land, not given over to planting or pasturing cattle. We played in them, weaving the tall grass into little hobbit shelters. Then the telephone company decided to build a telephone exchange, something unmanned, although they built a car park. Within days there was a fence surrounding the site. Piles of bricks, wooden planks, cement bags and all sorts of kid-luring stuff filled the space. Of course, we played on the building site. “Keep Out” signs did not keep us out. The company had all the raw materials they required to build the exchange. I dare say it’s a listed building now.
I thought of King David and his desire to build a temple to replace the tabernacle. God wasn’t that fussed about a temple. It wasn’t part of His plan for David to build it.
“Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?” 2 Sam 7:5-7
It was David’s son Solomon that was tasked with building the temple, but that did not mean that David had no part in it.
“Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all countries. I will now make preparation for it.” So David made abundant preparations before his death.” I Chron 22:5
He stocked up the raw materials that Solomon would need to build the Temple. Everything was there in abundance, even down to the nails.
It was a s if I had a glimpse at the building site that was me. I read somewhere, possibly s Facebook post that we are not works in progress. We tell ourselves we are when we make mistakes or deal with situations in a less than wise way. Are there bits of us that are finished?
God said, “Do you see all of those raw materials? All those snatches of sermons remembered, divinity degree notes, your collection of journals, your poems, your devotionals, prophecies prayed over you, words of knowledge, testimonies or answered prayer? All of those are for Me to build in you a fresh vision. It’s time to start to sift through, to sort out, to select and to start to build.” (Even God likes alliteration!)
When I retired last year, I gave myself a year to just reat and relax and recover from decades of teaching. (Yes, I like alliteration too) The year is almost up. It’s time to do the next thing. Part of the next thing is to enrol in a degree in Creative Writing at the local university – part time. It scratches an itch and whatever skills I learn I will use to build God’s Kingdom. Maybe there’s another book in the pipe line. Maybe…A lot of the next thing is still a mystery.
The notes based on the life of St Francis has been challenging. Yesterday, Francis had a hankering to know about his future and the future of his companions. He found an isolated, quiet place and sat down with God. It doesn’t say how long he sat with God. I always presume, with monks, that it’s never a quick half hour over a cup of tea. It wasn’t a comfortable place to start with. A holy God and a trying-to-be-holy man doesn’t always make for comfort.
“You always leave too early,” God said, “You leave after the uncomfortable bit it over, the confession part. But you never wait for the best bit.”
It’s like films that end and the people leave as the credits roll through, but there’s something at the end, another snippet of something, that they miss.
After the uncomfortable bit, Francis knew forgiveness was given and grace poured out upon him. He felt enveloped in light. He was so open to God, no obstacles. Heaven opened. God spoke. Vision came. Francis felt new.
So, that’s where I am, on the spiritual building site with all the raw materials, ready to build, but not yet n possession of the blueprint, tossing spiritual nails in one hand and a faith hammer in the other.