Who’s Building the House?

Surprise!

The 28-Day Blogging Challenge list of writing prompts leaves Fridays open for whatever surprise word-prompt Kate Motaung offers for Five Minute Friday.

And just as I was finishing the last post, my email came through from Kate, with this word prompt:

“Build”!

I almost laughed out loud.

So I’d already written on the prompt before I knew what it was!

But I must add now that the first thought that popped into my head on seeing that word was “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psa 127:1 NJKV)

Isn’t that the essence of what God was telling David, when this grateful human king wanted to build God a house?

When I looked up the verse that came to mind, to see if I had it right in my memory bank, I found it interesting, and rather entertaining, that the first words in it, preceding what I quoted above, are “A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.”

So this psalm is “a song of/by Solomon. How very fitting to follow the last post, because what I didn’t mention in it was that God told David that He would give the go-ahead for a temple to be built a for His name and His presence in Jerusalem, but David, the man of war and bloodshed would not be the one to build it. David’s son (Solomon, the man of peace, ruler in peacetime), would be the appropriate overseer of the work (2 Sa 7:12-16; 1 Ch 22:7-10).

I also found it interesting that when I used an online concordance to check the reference by entering the word “build,” the first verse that came up was about the human endeavor to build the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:4). They built it, but in vain, because God totally confounded the purpose for which they built it.

What “house” are you building? Who’s really building it, you or God, through you? Is your building going to fulfill its intended purpose, or is the laborer laboring in vain?

Some good questions to consider, regarding our human plans and endeavors. Some good questions to ask myself.

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For a set of links to all the other posts in this “Meandering Forward” series, go to this page, which will be updated daily as new posts appear in the blog content.

On God and Thwarted Human Dreams


The reason I don’t have a blog post up for the 7thon the 7th– is that I rebelled! Rebelled against my own inner bully, my inner hard taskmaster. The reason I rebelled is because of what God showed me in my Bible study passage for the week: About David and his thwarted desire to “build God a house.” About me and my own thwarted dreams and demolished desires.

2 Samuel 7

I’ve read this scripture passage before, many times, really. But it never hit me quite like yesterday— kind of like a Mack truck coming head-on.

David, now king, with his nation at rest from war, wants to build a house for God. He lays his eager plans before Nathan the (human) prophet, and Nathan, too, thinks, “Great idea! Go for it!”

But later, that night, God gets in a word about it. And Nathan has “ears to hear” what God is saying instead of just what he and another earnest human are thinking.

What God says is what I need “ears to hear” as well. Over and over again. Because this is the lesson that repeatedly slides away from me in the cackle and bustle and loud advertising of life.

Pay attention, as I finally sat up and did, to the words God said, and the way He said them (emphasis mine, because that emphasis explains so well why God sometimes lets our high and lofty plans get demolished):

Would you build a house for Me?

When  have ever spoken a word about this to anyone, saying, “Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?”

[Insert chuckles. Mine.]

God goes on, to put things into correct perspective. He points out…

I’m the one who’s going to build a house—for you, and all my people…

[according to my plan, which I’ve been carrying out all along:]

I took you from the sheepfold… to be ruler over My people.

have been with you wherever you have gone,

I’m the one who has cut off your enemies from before you, who has given you rest from those enemies

am the one who made you a great name.

[That’s the past. This is the future:]

Moreover

I will appoint a place for my people.

will plant them, so that they may dwell in a place of their own and move about no more; nor the sons of wickedness oppress them any more as previously…

since the time that I have caused you to have rest

Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.

So there!

 

Well, David gets it! He sees God for Who and What he is in His beyond-the-universe enormity, in comparison with David’s own miniscule human tininess, and God’s enormous heart of grace and generosity toward tiny humanity! I think He’s kind of bowled over, breathless! And so he confesses (which means to agree fully with God):

Who am I, O LORD God?

And what is my house [here meaning family], that You have brought me so far? And yet, this was a small thing in Your sight. You have spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come—and this for a mere human! [or for mere humanity]!

Now what more can I say to You?

For You know Your servant

And for the sake of Your word [promise] You have done all these great things according to Your own heart

to make Your servant know them!

Bottom line:

Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness to Your servant. Now therefore, let it please You to bless … [as] You have spoken…

This is praying in God’s name (character), according to His word. This is a prayer of most blessed surrender–to God’s blessing: the kind of praying that I (and you?) need to do more of!

And the bottom-line understanding: that though God sees and appreciates our earnest desire to “accomplish things” for Him, what He wants from us is not our projects or accomplishments, but our hearts, our companionship, our close and grateful walk with Him. And when you stop and think about this, it’s astoundingly awesome!

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For a set of links to all the other posts in this “Meandering Forward” series, go to this page, which will be updated daily as new posts appear in the blog content.

The Power of “One” for Spiritual Well-being

I’ve really gotten fixated, in the last few posts, on this mini theme of “One” as a key concept in successful living—with success being anything you define real success to be.

Which brings me to something that’s been rattling around in my head for the last two days: Some things Jesus said about the concept of “One”—Jesus as He walked the earth with His disciples, as God said throughout the ages in various pieces of scripture scattered in Old and New Testaments.

Christ told His disciples to avoid worrying about material needs and future concerns by living life “One day at a time” (Mt 6:24-34).

He pointed out the value of unloading all the cluttered abundance (Mt 6:19-21Mk 10:17-25 in exchange for the One surpassing treasure, the “pearl of great price”  (Mt 13:44-46),

and invited them to leave their nets (Mt 4:17-22; Mk 1:14-20) and tax tables (Mt 9:9) and houses and lands and tangled worldly pursuits and relationships (Mt 19:16-29; Mk 10:28-31) to come follow Him…

on “the way that is narrow and traveled by few,” the way that leads to “life” (Mt 7:13-14).

He held up the vision of “a single eye”  as  a focus to be sought after (Mt 6:22-23),

and praised Mary’s focus on the oneneedful thing” as a wiser, more noble choice than Martha’s worried distraction about “many things” (Luke 10:38-42).

These are just the examples that come to me off the top of my head. There may be many more. (Can you think of any?)

So this might be a good point at which to draw aside just to read and reflect on some of those passages, and get our vision focused on His recommended course to travel on our “Meandering Forward.”

Happy reflecting!

*****

For a set of links to all the other posts in this “Meandering Forward” series, go to this page, which will be updated daily as new posts appear in the blog content.

How “Continue With One” Does Practical Wonders in Everyday Life

So, you have a work project to do, or a creative endeavor to try, or a spiritual habit to work on establishing, or a learning venture to launch out on. And you “Start with One,” like last Saturday’s post talked about, and you get going just fine. You build up momentum,  and hum along for some time. But after a while you run out of steam, say, somewhere between the middle and the end—or, somewhere after the second week! Does this ever happen to you? It happens to me.

For example, last week:

I’d been on a January de-clutter and up-cycle campaign to tidy and clear out and simplify life. I’d taken it into the sewing room by hauling out parts of my fabric scrap stash that had been accumulating for a couple decades—or more: leftover bits mostly from quilt and comforter making for family and friends. 

I’d decided the best way to make use of them would be to create some scrap patchwork quilt tops for the local women’s sewing group to line and back and turn into comforters for the needy mission field and local women’s shelter. 

Rather than try to deal with the whole assorted hodge-podge, I’d restrained myself and started with one bunch of similar sized pieces: all the 2-inch wide fabric strips. There were prints and there were plain white solids. I’d decided to use this combo to make a “Nine Patch” quilt top.

I’d sewed a batch of them together into groups of three, solid whites and prints alternating.

Some with the white strips sandwiched between the prints, some with the prints in the middle.

I’d gotten so far as to slice these triple strips into 2-inch wide segments, and to sew them together, thus:

But after this point, the project began to lag.

I tend to get bogged down in such projects—get bored, I suppose, and the whole thing can go indefinitely on “hold.” 

However, this one didn’t! This time I got at it again and got all these blocks finished in three otherwise busy days, without involving much time or backache.

Know how?

By committing to finish a nine-patch “block.” Just one! That’s all! 

I got out my dear departed mother’s ancient Pfaff machine again and plunked it atop my sturdy card table. On my counter-height tabIe I set up my cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter (a height much easier on the back for rotary cutting).

I cut another trio strip into two-inch segments. And then I put it together with just one of the pairs already connected—and completed just one nine patch “block.”

There! I did that!

Done? Finished? Time to quit?

Well, who could stop at that point?

Nothing succeeds like success, so they (rightly) say, and the success of one block cheered me on to do “just one more”—then another—and another!

So “just one” works not just for getting started, but also for finishing what’s dropped by the wayside.

Do you have a started project or other endeavor that’s languishing in  a closet or drawer or bookshelf? Maybe you’d like to get it out now, and just knit one row? Or write one sentence? Or read and ponder one verse of one Psalm?

Remind me of this when I get bogged down in sewing these nine-patch blocks together with plain white squares cut to the same size, to complete the quilt top for good and all? Or when I start to languish in my present commitment to publish 28 posts in February?

Happy starting–and continuing!

*****

For a set of links to all the other posts in this “Meandering Forward” series, go to this page, which will be updated daily as new posts appear in the blog content.

 

Where to Go? and How to Get There?

When I accepted this February blogging challenge, it was mainly to jumpstart my stalled blogsite. I decided a bit late, too: as in, January 29th!

 So I had no theme in mind, like the last series’ “Found Wisdom” or the previous collage-a-day. I figured I’d write various posts as I normally do, meaning each post might not relate much to the others.

That approach presented this problem: What title could I give the “series,” so I could list it on the community linkup page? And in which offered category? I needed to call it something!

How to name such a trackless approach?

 

The words “ramble,” “wander,” and “meander” came to mind.

I liked sound and “feel” of “meander.” So I looked it up in Webster:

meander  1: to follow a winding or intricate course 2: to wander aimlessly or casually without urgent destination : RAMBLE : syn see WANDER

I definitedly prefer that first definition to the second! I hope my February offerings won’t be aimless, without useful destination. I’ve been trusting God to steer me along in some kind of learning curve pathway, and bring me by trail’s end to some greater wisdom or understanding than I had before I started…

So in the spirit of definition #1, I’m calling this series…

 “28 Days of Meandering Forward”

I know that seems an oxymoron. How “forward” can you meander? Meander implies veering to right and left, sometimes perhaps without even moving forward one yard! A meander might even make loops that sometimes face the opposite direction of “forward”!

But “definition 1” implies my convoluted trail, though lackadasical-looking, still may lead right where it ought, right where God wants me to arrive.

Key word in it is “follow.” “Definition 2” doesn’t seem to follow anything, but just let feet land wherever, as the traveler gazes at sky and birdies.

I can meander with good purpose if I follow, if my heart follows, the right thing.

I wouldn’t be the first person to do it…

Abraham went out from Ur of the Chaldees with no idea where he was headed! But he knew Who he was following, and that made all the difference. He stalled for some time, here and there (we’re not told why), and sometimes seemed way off track, but his focus always reverted back to Him with Whom he’d become an intimate friend and follower.

Joseph had a dream he likely wanted to follow; but he didn’t even get to decide his own twists and turns; treacherous brothers, horrible slave dealers,  then oppressive overlords, decided for him. They seemed to determine his path. Yet after long years of confusion and Joseph sometimes moving nowhere but around in prison confines, he ended up right where God had intended him all along, at the sudden fulfillment of that now long-previous dream!

Moses just plain ran for his life, and because of his own wrongdoing! Then he “wasted” forty years just wandering (meandering?) on the hills and valleys of exile, following nothing more than green pasture patches so the sheep could eat. Later, even after God grabbed his attention and sent him on a seemingly mapped-out course, he and his now-human flock literally wandered around the wilderness for forty more before they finally got to the Promised Land.

But he did get them there, didn’t he?

David spent tons of time flitting from one hiding place to another before his destination of Kingship suddenly presented itself before him. Even afterward, off he went on the run again, fleeing now from his own son! (And never mind how off course he got at one point, trumbling down that precipice into disastrous sin with Bathsheba and treachery against Uriah!)

It’s nice and pious sounding to say “I’m going to follow God, or my destiny,” but how do I know I’m not deceiving myself and really just going where fear or greediness, revenge or even foolhardy silliness is driving me?  

The only good solution I know is to 1) put the whole matter firmly in His capable hands, determining to trust Him with it, 2) pray, “Please guide my feet in the path of Your peace; bend my heart to Your will,” 3) keep in mind what He has clearly said, in His word, and 4) just pick up one booted or slippered or sneaker-shod foot and put it down ahead of the other.

Baby steps, baby steps. Starting with “One,” continuing with another “one,” then more “one after one,” till God gets me where He wants me to be—which has got to be the best destination possible.

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Q for you: Do you have a journey you need to take? Does it have a clear destination? How will you determine your course?

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For a set of links to all the other posts in this “Meandering Forward” series, go to this page, which will be updated daily as new posts appear in the blog content.