'...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.'
Philippians 1:6 NIV
Of course you do. Well, I'm wanting to tell you a couple of things this morning.
You've started something.
I'm looking forward to the finished article. I think.
Katy and I tidied her bedroom some weeks ago. Well, I tidied Katy's room and she sort of followed me around complaining, removing items that I put in a black bin bag and disagreeing with me in my definition of 'rubbish'. The point I am making, however, is that the room was dreadful. It was a mess, and needed work. About an hour into the job, it looked much, much worse than it did to start with. No choice but to push on. Can't leave it like this.
And that's a bit how I feel.
I am a work in progress.
I know that you are at work. I know it beyond any doubt; I know that things are considerably different from the way they were three years ago, two years, one year. I know that you're working in different areas of my life and I accept that work is needed. Many bits of me are as messy as Katy's bedroom floor. And yes, I'm the one who follows you round reinstating the bits that you want me to throw away.
It came to me a few days ago that your Holy Spirit lives in me. I have known that in a brain sort of way, but the other day it just clicked into place in my heart. I know the Holy Spirit is there not because I prophesy or speak in tongues (The Tongues of Men and Angels) but because of this:
'...no-one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 12:3
And you know what? I can say Jesus is Lord. Oh yes, I can. And I know it in my heart more every day. Thankyou Holy Spirit.
I love it when the first words in my head in a morning are in praise of you. I love it when I have a line of a song going round in my head all day and it's a worship song. I like filling my head with things like this. A few days ago I woke up with a line from Matt Redman's song, 'Once again' in my head:
'Thankyou for the cross, thankyou for the cross, thankyou for the cross, my Friend'
Today it was from Phil Wickham's 'Cannons':
'All glory, honour, power are yours, Amen...'
It makes me smile. I think it makes you smile too, and that's good. I want to make you smile.
I woke in the middle of the night a few days ago and glanced at the clock. It was 3:16am.
'God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.'
3:16. A few years ago would I have made a connection like this? I don't think so. Is it a bit cheesy? Are there Christians out there that would roll their eyes if I shared this little nocturnal nugget? Maybe so, but I like it. It's only since I've been spending more time with you and learning to listen as well as rabbit on that I've started seeing so much more. I see you all around me, when you give me eyes to see and I manage to keep them open.
I see you in the rain droplets on a scarlet Autumn leaf.
I see you in a man on a train reading a book about prayer.
I see you in the double rainbow above my daughter's school at pick-up time.
I see you in the low, orangey shafts of sunlight against a dark, purpley stormy sky right now.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he lives in me.
I am a work in progress. I come complete with notices advising steel toecapped boots and a hard hat. Danger lurks within; I am not finished yet. Authorised access only; all visitors please check in with the site manager before coming any further. And what I thought was a small renovation project turns out to be a fairly sizeable building site.
I read this from CS Lewis and there was more than a small spark of recognition:
'Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.'
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
I don't know if I'm going to be a palace or a block of flats but the 'knocked about abominably' bit rings some bells. I think it's because I'm pretty sure you're working on lots of different bits all at the same time. My temper, the things I say and how I say them, what I think; things that I dwell on, the priority I set on spending time with you, learning how to concentrate on your Plan for my life and not get sidetracked by everything else, tackling my need for approval and desire to please other people... and so much more. Then, of course, there's patience (blimey, asking you for patience isn't quite what I'd hoped it would be. I wanted to wake up one morning effortlessly unruffled and serene, not find that my life is littered with opportunities to develop blessed patience).
You're not just ripping out the fireplace, you're digging deep and you're rewiring, re-plastering, knocking down and rebuilding, re-roofing and landscaping simultaneously.
I'm looking forward to the furnishing. Cushions. Lamps. Decor. Maybe that'll be a bit more comfortable?
The only thing that I disagree with CS Lewis about is the last line of the quote above. You're not waiting until it's all finished before you move in; you're here already.
You must have a sleeping bag on the dusty living room floor, I think. It's certainly not a house fit for a King just yet, but that's the wonderful thing about my God. You're not waiting for the throne room and the chapel to be gilded and frescoed. You're happy to step over the threshold while the roof is still leaking. You're happy to walk around touching the walls affectionately and reassuring and making plans, making yourself at home even when it's grubby and draughty and you get your hands dirty.
Why? Because you love this little house. Even in its neglected state, you love it. You looked at it and took in all the many inadequacies and problems and you still thought immediately that it was worth saving. You could see which walls to knock down to let in more light. As soon as I opened the little battered door, you sent in your best team.
So, Father God. As Project Manager, how's it going? No, don't tell me. I'm not really that keen on knowing that we're only on Phase One of a lifetime's worth of construction. Come and build. Find the locked doors in secret corridors and help me to open them up so that you can renovate those rooms too. Even when it's painful - because I want to be a palace fit for the King of Kings.
I don't want to aim small. I want to be all that I can be, and for your glory. I want everyone to know that you are the architect and designer and the builder. I want people to look at me and see you.
Let's just take it one day at a time.
This might take a while.
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