I had the honor on Saturday of working on my first Habitat for Humanity house.
What a humbling experience, my friends. We arrived early in the morning and were briefed on the job by the foreman and Habitat representative. We were told that the land we were working on had been donated by a local church, and was one lot of 50. Habitat had built the entire community. We were working on house number 48 in the neighborhood, and after two more, the community of Jubilee Heights would be complete. Jubilee—celebration, festivity…how appropriate.
What a blessing to see brothers and sisters in Christ working side by side to help those in need. I was privileged to be introduced to the husband and wife who would be residing in the house once completed. They have four children. I stood beside this precious woman on the back porch and we looked out over the muddy landscape together. A crop of trees offered shade on the gently sloping terrain. The cheerful purple of the red buds peppered the wooded area. We were silent as we looked out over this promise. We were looking at the future in this barren scene. Soon, there would be grass…children running down the hill; traipsing through the woods, perhaps a swing set…raucous laughter filled my thoughts. I heard her deep sigh beside me, heavy with hopes and dreams.
“It’s a nice back yard,” I said.
“Yes, it is,” she replied.
I squeezed her hand.
I wondered if this was how the Israelites felt when they gazed upon their promised land. I caught a glimpse of walking into Canaan.
A Promise. A hope.
When was the last time I gazed out onto the barren land and saw a promise in my life? What a gift to be given something to hope for.
My first job was to wire brush the foundation of the house in preparation for painting. You see, in the building, mud and dirt get embedded into the porous cinderblock. If you try to paint over this filth, the paint will not adhere for long. As I steadily made my way across the front of the foundation, meticulously brushing each block; I was struck by the difficulty of such a seemingly simple job. I had to press down hard on the wire bristles of the brush to make them effective. My arms grew tired and I raked my knuckles on the hard cinderblock. Wouldn’t it be easier, we asked Tiny (our not so tiny foreman), to just take a hose and spray the stuff off? He explained to us that this method was not as effective…it takes going over each block individually to make sure each one was adequately cleaned and prepared.
Can you see where I am going, Dear Ones? God has such perfect timing. Isn’t this what He has called me to do in my own life in the past several months? As I go through my past in search of healing, He has taken each cinderblock of my foundation and carefully and meticulously cleaned away the filth. He has provided opportunities for me to confront painful memories and emerge cleansed and new. Sometimes it is not easy. I get tired of the work, I scrape my heart on the hard surface of the memories. But through it all, He has been faithful. He has reminded me what my true foundation looks like. There is no stain there, no tarnish.
He is so good, my friends. As I look out into my promised land, I can leave my past behind me for the first time in my life. My sighs are heavy with hope. My breath is deep like a dream. I am built on a sure foundation, Beloved. I will stand steady and strong. Waiting for my promised land.
Aren’t we all waiting? Wait with joy, Beloved! Let your sighs be filled with the heaviness of dreams.
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”—Isaiah 28:16