By: Glynda Kinsland Johnson
Months and months of winter weather have passed. Progress on the road could have been measured in inches per week. Finally…finally…I see Mr. Scott, our excavator, crank up his backhoe and start to drive slowly up the hill to what will soon be our house spot.
I run to catch up to this bear of a man with his bald head and huge mustache. We’ve got 1200 feet of drive, and I want to thank him for the progress he’s made so far. Instead, the frustration inherent to the process of building a house takes over, and I start bombarding him with the questions that are keeping me up at night…
“How long before we can actually start laying the foundation? Do you anticipate any problems digging out the basement? Are we still under budget?”
The anxiety in my voice must be pretty noticeable even at the great height of his canary yellow cab. Mr. Scott stops the big machine with finesse that only a master of his trade would exhibit, firmly pulls back on the handbrake, deftly cuts off the engine, and eases himself down to the ground. Turning to face the overgrown hillside that promises to be his next professional challenge, he takes a moment to assess the situation.
“Well,” he says in his gentle mountain brogue, “we’ll just have to clear the land and see what we’ve got,”…a simple and wise answer.
Over the weeks, as trees are knocked down, brush is cleared and burned, roots and stumps pulled up, and rocks rolled to new locations, I begin to see connections between the work being done on this home site and the work that can be accomplished within Christians through the power of the Holy Spirit. Aren’t we all “under construction” as children of God?
“You are God’s field, God’s building.” (I Cor. 3:9 NIV)
Isn’t it true that, for God’s purpose to be truly realized in each of us, we must sometimes clear the landscapes of our hearts, removing encumbrances that might interfere with the Creator’s hand as He molds and makes us into whatever He wants us to become?
Many trees are marked for saving, but some must be removed to make room for our home. In my own life, I often cling to the “tall pines” of past roles that have defined me, even as the Great Architect is redesigning my identity for His purpose. For several years I served in the public schools as a teacher, and I have longed to recreate my success and wear that mantle in the way I have worn it before. My heart aches remembering the joy of doing what I loved. But we are to be committed to God’s objectives, not our own. As I hear God calling me to new pursuits, I need to let Him chop down those trees of past identities.
With those fallen trees come roots. It does seem that the more successful we are and the more gratified we feel, the harder it is to pull up the stumps that hold us in place. I know I’ve developed quite an extensive root system over time. As God’s wave of change washes over my life, I am often held firmly in place by the tug of relationships that may need to end, the weight of responsibilities that call to be relinquished, and victories that still warm me. As twisted, knotted roots are yanked from the earth, I am reminded that the Lord is very jealous of our love, our loyalties, and our trust. Nothing in the past, present, or future should separate us from being as dedicated to God as He is to us. When the Lord calls me to new challenges, I pray that I will remember that His motives and timing are always perfect. I have no need to fear the unknown.
“He cares for those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7 NIV)
Letting go can free us to claim future glory in His Name.
It has been said that our mountain resembles a bucket of rocks with a bit of dirt mixed in. As Mr. Scott hauls out big rocks and little rocks, flat rocks and round rocks, one thing becomes very apparent. No true progress can be made until the rocks are rolled away, and the path is cleared.
Often, the scoop on the backhoe is used to sift out the good dirt and the rocks are laid to the side. I ask myself, “What rocks need to be moved in my life? Some I can pick up and toss, but others can only be repositioned by the hand of God. Through persistent prayer and petition, barriers large and small can be situated so that the course on which we are to travel in His Name will be unobstructed. Looking over the changing landscape, I find myself praying that the stones lining the fresh path that God has set for me will now serve as markers. No longer stumbling blocks, may their new purpose be to remind me to not stray from the boundaries of His will.
Through hard work and time, an order is brought to the wilderness that is our mountain. It is much easier to visualize what will be. The ground is clean and smooth and ready for the hand of the builder.
“Clear the land and see what we’ve got,”…a simple and wise answer.
What will God construct in me? May I prepare my heart and clear my mind so that I might fully receive Him.