It’s NOISY outside my house! As I write, there’s the sound of a chugging cement mixer, the scraping of plaster onto walls, aluminum ladders being raised and lowered, debris being shoveled off the cement driveway and people yelling to be heard above all the racket. Most days this would seem like an unwanted cacophony, but today…..it’s a beautiful, beautiful sound. =)
Six months ago (in September) we embarked on a pretty major home renovation project that is part garage conversion and part addition. The initial estimate of time was “2 to 3 months”, and, knowing there would likely be inevitable delays, we went with a more conservative “3 to 4” just to hold disappointment at bay. It’s taken….a little longer than anticipated. There are many reasons for the delay – some of which are changes we made in the process – but it’s now become a family joke to make wild estimations of the finish date. “So, when the house is done….you know, after Christmas….” I’ve begun to notice that the job is no longer being referred to by the workers as a “remodel”, but as a “build-as-you-go-project.” I wonder if they’re trying to tell us something? =)
But, finally, after many weeks of starts & stops, things really seem to be on their way! (OK, I know that having the foundation, plumbing and electrical all being done correctly are important…but, let’s face it, that’s not the most exciting phase of building – well, at least not to this visual gal who needs to see something to be able to “get” what it’s going to be.) We’re building a self-contained studio apartment, and this week the kitchen cabinets arrived. Now, that’s something I can understand! The bathroom is tiled (but not yet grouted), the sink is installed, the built-in shelves have been installed in the bedroom and all the doors hung….it’s starting to look like something!
So, even though the noise outside may be a little distracting, and probably annoying to our long-suffering neighbors who must be wondering if the construction trucks will ever NOT be in front of our house, to me……it’s just the sound of progress. =)
And we’ve learned some things about “progress” over these last six months. For starters, it depends on lots of other people, with their own lives and priorities which may or may not align with ours on any given day. It also is better appreciated through a looooong lens of patience, and a generous dose of grace. At one point, when the timetable kept being pushed back and frustrations were beginning to mount, it was hard to celebrate the progress that WAS being made. This is a joyous project that is going to be a wonderful blessing for our family, but it didn’t feel that way when all I could see was what had not been accomplished that week. And so we just had to…..let it go. We realized that the project would eventually be finished, and all of the planning, deciding, building, painting, plastering, plumbing, cementing, installing and decorating would come to an end. We would have a lovely addition to our home and peace would once again reign in the neighborhood!
This makes me wonder if there are other – less tangible areas of our lives that can feel stalled. Where are we waiting, perhaps in impatience or even frustration, for things to get moving….to change? Sometimes progress is easy to perceive, like this week when the rough installation of kitchen cupboards suddenly helped me “see” a kitchen! But, sometimes progress is stealthy and hidden. There were days I would come home and it didn’t seem like a thing had been moved from the day before, then I would learn what had happened in the walls or under the ground or on the roof…
We all come to those places in our lives where a situation, a relationship, or even our own hearts seem to be stuck….not moving forward or backward, just….stalled. Nothing is happening according to the timetable as planned and it looks as though things won’t ever change or “get there”. Well, I know it’s not easy….not getting what we expect is always hard to deal with, but God has much to say about our plans versus His. We could have pushed longer and harder, treating our friends as employees and demanded all sorts of things these past six months. But it probably would have only brought us a few weeks closer to the projected finish time, and I know it wouldn’t have made us feel any better about the relationships we’ve created with the great crew working on our house.
When I think of the time of intense teaching Jesus spent with his disciples the short years before his crucifixion and resurrection, he must have had times he felt like it just wasn’t happening fast enough, or that they just weren’t understanding clearly enough, but He was close enough to the heart of God to not despair…and definitely to not quit. He did as God instructed him to do, and lived his life as an offering to his Father in heaven, no matter what the outside “progress” looked like. So, that’s our inspiration for this day – to live faithfully and graciously, in spite of the “progress” we see. God is able to build our lives exactly as they need to be. And his timing is always perfect!
(Unlike our home construction. Which will surely be done by…ya know…..January.) =
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”