Lots of times, when we finish a mission trip – particularly one that involves construction – we like to share some “before and after” photos. Generally, this means that the ones early in the week show the project in some early stages, often in great disrepair or distress, while the ones at the end of the week present a glistening new edifice ready for use.Our trip this week did not lend itself to such neat categories. We were called to work on a huge structure (2600 square feet) that will be home to at least four adults and six children. When we got there, the homeowner had done a good bit of work – it was all under roof, framed, and had some drywall hung. When we left, it was still under roof, had an additional 112 sheets of drywall hung, and was about halfway taped.
It’s not glistening. It’s not “move-in” ready.
But it’s a few steps closer. A great many steps, in fact.One of my earliest mentors in ministry said to me, “You know, most days, you won’t finish. But every day, you have to stop.” That advice has served me well in a variety of situations, including this one. It’s not done. But we are. And fortunately for everyone concerned, this house has not been our responsibility. The Lord has called this family to a new and safe place, and the Lord will allow them to enter it in his time. We were fortunate enough to be a part of the process.
And now we are coming home. If we did this right, then we are changed as much as the house was. Just like that building, we look the same on the outside. But there have been some great laughs, some profound truth, some deep sharing, and, to be honest, some very interesting noises that have been shared. Our hope and prayer is that these steps in our journey will lead us closer to being more appropriate homes for the Holy One. One of the passages we read this week was from John 15: “Abide in me as I abide in you…”The plan was to fix up a house a little bit so that the rightful owner could come in and live in it more completely and fully. Along the way, we hoped to turn ourselves into more suitable dwelling places for the Holy Spirit. By the grace of God, perhaps both of those goals are a little closer to being accomplished.
Years ago, I read “Living Faith” by Jimmy Carter. In it, he told the story of asking an old Amish farmer if he knew the Lord – if he was “saved” – if he was a believer in Christ. The Amish man thought for a while and then asked for a pad and paper. He wrote four names on it. “These men are the ones who own the farms north, east, south, and west of me,” he said. “You go and ask them if I’m living like someone who knows the Lord.”
We’ll show you the photos of the house. You tell us if you can see Jesus any clearer in our lives.
When we finished our work in Mission, it was time to head north to the Hobby Airport in Houston, where we’ll catch a flight early on Saturday so as to return home by evening. En route, we stopped at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge outside of Galveston. I will close this post with a few images from the happy hours we spent there.