Our church is currently going through construction. Which generally means that during the week the sanctuary is flooded with equipment – nails, hammers, drills, ladders – and during Sunday morning service the worship team prays that the equipment is set up properly enough for the sound to last through the whole service, for the microphones to hold up and the cables to stay put. The backdrop has been torn down. The stage has been ripped apart and rebuilt. Our speakers are portable, and our carpet has more stains than it has had in the past nine years. In short, it’s a demolition zone. It’s a work in progress space. I walk in there during the week and smell sawdust, and I walk in there on Sunday mornings and I smell the mixed perfume of the members of our congregation.
I see the sawdust and the perfume as a picture of sorts – a picture of our faith walk. We live in constant construction. There is construction in my life and in my heart, concepts and thoughts that are consistently being torn down and built back up. There are parts of my faith that needs to be examined and re-constructed. There is a war zone inside, hammers, nails and all. I live in the development that God is patiently and constantly working on within me. There is infallible tension where we as Christians live.
We believe in the fullness of healing, that a sick man can stand up and walk away from the poolside (John 5) (or if you’re anything like me, you definitely believe it with your heart but would still like to see with your eyes just to be totally sure). We believe the hard hearts can be changed forever in an instant. We believe that the transformation that Jesus extends has complete power in a moment.
And yet –there is a small reminder every time we fail, every time we ask the Lord why we cannot seem to hear His voice, every time our faith gets weak, that we are in process. That even though Jesus can heal immediately, we are still under construction. We press on towards knowing Jesus in all of our failures and inadequacies.
Paul says it like this in Phillipians 3:12, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, which is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (MSG)
A lot of my friends are getting married. It’s a season that every young adult experiences, I’m sure, wedding invitations, candles, vows and flowers. A wedding I attended yesterday was everything a wedding should be. There were bridesmaids in candy coloured dresses, with curly hair and sweet smiles. There were groomsmen in matching suits, apprehensively adjusting jackets and ties.
There were elderly couples wondering how the time slipped by their fingers as fast as it did – wasn’t it just yesterday that they were attending their own wedding? There were young couples flirting and giggling, remembering that soon it would be their turn, wondering if it would feel as special as it looked, hoping it would. The music was loud enough to hear the melodies, but quiet enough to tune out, which is the best sort of volume for any social gathering and harder to master than one would think. There were bouquet tosses and cakes, kisses and speeches, a nervous groom and a glowing bride.
There was a here she comes hush as she walked down the aisle, feet propelled by love. The sun came out as they said their vows, a small miracle amid the bigger miracle. The miracle that God dwells among His people and is inhabited in their praise, (Psalm 22:3) that He lavishly extends His love towards them, and He allows them to attempt to love one another the way that He loves them. Weddings carry weight for the symbolism they hold. Symbols for new beginnings, for love, for expectant futures.
Yesterday, I saw it parallel to construction zones. It was, for me, the symbol of joy and healing that is the overflow when God gives us Himself, that we can experience in our lives. It is what we must be fully expectant of if we are to live with the hope of glory within us.
Once again, Paul puts it eloquently, saying in Colossians 1:26-28, “This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just the Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.” (MSG)
And yet, there are still construction zones. The next morning, walking into church, I was reminded of this fact, that there is still sawdust and hammers, nails and drills. There are still processes and things that God is working on and will not be complete until the other side of heaven..
In one hand, there are weddings, in the other hand there are constructions zones. In one hand there is complete healing from depression. In the other hand there is a shaky faith and a sin you can’t quite shake.
But if you look close enough, you might find a stray bouquet amidst the sawdust.