Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain…
These words last weekend while attending a local retreat about world missions. In a darkened auditorium I listened to a seasoned missionary share stories of caring for the people of a jungle village on a Pacific island. After thirty years of living with some of the poorest of the world with spotty electricity, no paved roads, little communication from the outside world, and most other things that I take for granted, this missionary was winsome and joyful. He gave up a life of relative comfort in the United States to submit to whatever and wherever God wanted him to go, and he found a life of adventure, fulfillment and deep joy. He is proof that those who give their lives away will gain it back in the end.
“I have to apologize to the younger generation in the room,” he said, tucking his gray floppy hair behind his ears. “My generation has not modeled how to sacrifice. We have tried to protect you and give you everything you need and want, and now you don’t know what it means to sacrifice.”
Ripples of anxious butterflies started fluttering inside me. I knew what he meant. God has often convicted me of my idol of my own comfort. I don’t like to sacrifice. I avoid pain at all cost. I have ignored Jesus’ words to count the cost and to take up my cross daily. In the quite darkness of the room, I confessed this to God again.
Then God reminded me of Psalm 127:1. “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain…” He whispered to my heart. “You haven’t asked me what I think about buying a home. Are you willing to sacrifice your plans?” My heart quickened. The whisper boomed inside my head.
Give up my plans? I cringed. I have wanted a house for so long. Andy and I have started to save for it. I have blogged about it. I have talked about it. But I know that God is right. I have not asked Him about His plans for a house or all of the money that will go towards it.
James 4:13-16 says:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lords’ will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.”
The music from the band on the stage interrupted my thoughts. The speaker left the stage. I knelt on the ground and repented of my boastful, self-centered plans. I asked God to show me what His plans are and to help me to learn to sacrifice. He is the best teacher. After all, He sacrificed His beloved Son for my sinful pride.
At this point, I think that God is still leading us to purchase a house, but I want to hold this goal with an open hand. I want to be willing to sacrifice my plans and dreams for God’s plans and dreams.