(Posted by Mike)
When Joni and I were first married I was working as the “Pastor to Youth” at the First Baptist Church in Mitchell. Along with the prestige, respect and honor of that position came a wonderful little house, the Youth Mansion. We both loved that house and with the exception of a few minor flaws (postage stamp kitchen, lead based paint and moldy, leaky basement) it was perfect to begin raising a family.
Eventually, God led me to change my ministry from the church setting to the public school. Naturally, we couldn’t continue to live in the youth mansion and needed to find a new abode. We struck a mutually beneficial deal with Joni’s parents and bought their house a couple of months before I officially ended the rent-free stay in the parsonage. We used this time to make a few changes and remodel the place. During this time of replacing windows, fixing holes, hanging drywall and removing (non-load bearing) walls, one of my favorite sayings was “now I know why Jesus quit carpentry and became a preacher.”
We’ve lived in this house for nearly five years now. The house has been in a constant state of remodeling: windows, walls, floors, bathroom, bedrooms, plywood, drywall, insulation, 2-by-4s, saws, drills, screwdrivers, chainsaw (don’t ask). None of that is really my thing but, thankfully, I’ve had plenty of help from family and friends. Some of the projects from those first few months still need to be finished. Pathetic, I know. I want the house to look nice but I just can’t seem to get all of the jobs done. I’m too lazy, too much of a perfectionist and just don’t have what it takes.
It hit me the other day that my house is a great metaphor for my spiritual life; in a constant state of improovement. Some times I know what to do and how to do it, but I don’t have the desire to do it right now, maybe later. Other spiritual problems are beyond my abilities to handle alone. Too often I spend my time looking for that perfect solution and never make any progress. Mostly, though, it boils down to an investment of my time. I can do most of the work around the house if I can just overcome the increased gravity under my comfy chair. If I want to live for Christ, I have to get off my hind-end and invest some time in the lives of others. Jesus told us quite clearly what was important in the spiritual life: love God, love others.
The problem is that I’ve become comfortable with my work-in-progress life. I’m OK walking on plywood or cement board in my house, it doesn’t bother me that I can see studs where walls should be. Similarly, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for me that I’m not living for the Kingdom. I don’t point people to Christ (to use the phrase that Gary barrowed from a Children’s Bible: few of my life stories “whisper His name”) and apparently I’m OK with that. I’m not bothered enough to try to change my life. My life and my house are functional, not what they should be, but everything works alright.
It’s hard to make progress on houses or lives when you only work weekends!