For a very short time in my teenage life, I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. I was interested in cars (or maybe it was just the girls in "The Fast and the Furious") and thought I wanted to design them. I began to look at car designs and what it took to create and build a car; and got very lost, very quickly. The amount of thought, engineering, and math that went into each design blew me away and I quickly decided that Mechanical Engineering wasn’t a good idea!
Following on with the theme of blueprints and intricate design, I have been thinking recently about how God guides our lives and how the plans He has for us compares to our ideas and our understanding. The scripture that has come back to me over and over in the last month is Psalm 127:1,
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
All through my Christian walk I’ve heard people throw around ‘Christianese’ phrases saying things like: we must surrender to God’s plan, His ways are better than ours, blah, blah, blah, and I experienced little personal, heartfelt impact; but for whatever reason, when I read this passage, I was blindsided, and affected in a completely new and radical way. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.” What does this mean?
The way that I read it is “if God’s not in whatever act you are doing, then there is no point doing it.”
I don’t believe this is saying that everything we do needs to have a ‘convert-seeking motive’ behind it, or a ‘God slot’, but that in everything we do, we are to have the attitude that we seek to bring greater glory to God and His kingdom. There is a subtle difference mentally between trying to grow our congregation and trying to grow God’s kingdom, but I believe the spiritual consequences are huge. Trying to grow our congregation means we are leaning on our own, limited, human ability. We can tempt people with better coffee, comfy seats, and nicer music, but those things aren’t what has turned over 1 billion people into Christ followers. With everything we do, whether it be talking with non-believing friends, sharing food with the hungry, interacting with people in our daily lives, or whatever; we need to go to God and say “take this Lord, let it further your kingdom,” and then watch Him work.
God’s power is limitless and if we turn all glory and praise back to Him, we are giving Him all the space to work in our lives to transform the world for His Kingdom.
John 3:30 says “He must become greater; I must become less;” we need to give God all possible room to work in a situation, because He can do infinitely more than we can with our limited knowledge and understanding.
Coming back to where I started, God’s blueprint for life. We are the builders, our lives are the building, God designed us, God drew the blueprint for our life, and He had a specific purpose for creating us. Therefore, what is the point in building anything other than what God originally intended? God’s knowledge is infinite, ours is finite; what can we do better than Him? Building a life other than the one God has prepared for us is like starting to build a house with no idea how big it’s going to be, how many floors it’s going to have, how many bedrooms, bathrooms, or hallways it’s going to have, or even where to put them. It’s a terrible idea, and it’s going to fall down.
We can’t see our blueprint – but God can!
Practically, what does this look like for us? I don’t believe it is anything huge or drastic; I think it is more of a subtle mindset shift that allows more space for God, and less space for us. Approaching every day by saying, “Lord, lay out the plan for today; let me take every opportunity to further your kingdom for your glory, not for mine.” This is a prayer that I am working on making an integral part of my life, and I trust that through my offering of every day to Him, He uses me in a small way to further His kingdom. It takes time to learn this pattern, and it is something I am still working on, but it is coming. With prayer and persistence, I’m learning.
I don’t want to give the impression that I have this discipline mastered, I’m learning it even as I write about it, and I’m still trying to improve, and gain in confidence and courage. Simply loving people, being friendly, being genuine, and aiding in their struggle goes a very long way. People just want to be known, and if you get to know someone who doesn’t know Jesus, and you have the attitude of furthering God’s kingdom, then amazing and beautiful things will happen. I believe that in faith.
Finally, God never reveals the whole picture from the start, only what we need to know to get to the next phase of the project.
Building our lives by God’s blueprint is a never ending journey, we are always a construction zone.
Sometimes the timber gets cut the wrong length and needs to be re-sawn. Sometimes concrete gets poured in the wrong spot, and we need to dig it up and lay it elsewhere. The best part is, though, that God journey’s with us, He never ever leaves us, and He already sees the finished masterpiece!
Nathan is a 3rd year Geology student at UBC. Originally from the UK, he now calls BC home and is a proud Canadian Citizen. When he's not exploring the local mountains, he's probably playing bass guitar. Nathan loves playing music with people and listening to the stories people weave with music.