Transformation in taking place in the Luck household. The old is making way for the new.
Specifically, Louise and I spent the weekend taking out the kitchen and sending it off with a guy from Derby in a transit van. Soon some burly men will be knocking out the chimney breast and replacing it with a big chunk of steel and a new shiny, modern kitchen will begin to emerge.
Inevitably this brings challenges with it. We will be coping with a basic version of a kitchen in the cellar, which means you have to go hunting every time you need a tea spoon. On Saturday I did a masterclass in how not to disconnect a dishwasher with a flood narrowly averted when Louise turned the mains water off. We start the week aching and aware this will not be the most straightforward few weeks.
Psalm 127 says ‘unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain’. We are aware of our need to pray and communicate well for this not to descend into chaos. The point God makes pretty pointedly in the parable of the wise and foolish builders is that a good life is built on the foundation of the words of God.
It’s a straightforward message, a doddle for a Sunday school teacher but the application is much more different.
This call to build our lives upon God goes against our instincts to DIY.
The dishwasher example is yet another example of my lamentable skills at actual DIY. It’s not just that I lack skills, which I most certainly do. It’s that I lack the bit of brain that knows what’s actually supposed to be happening.
When it comes to life in general I have no problem accepting that I need some help with that too.
Last Friday, Louise and I had the privilege of being interviewed at a ‘Real Lives’ (1) event, organised by the churches in Chapeltown in the North of Sheffield. Twice a year they put on an event to show what God means in the day to day lives of different people.
As we were interviewed we were honest about our need for God and the support of church community. In our shock and pain after losing our boy, Ben we knew we needed this to get through. DIY for life was not an option.
This threw up the challenging question of how we could still look to the God who appeared to have failed us. As we have started to work through this, we have come to the conclusion that God never promised ‘happy ever after’ but to walk with us, whatever happened on the journey.
It is easy to measure God’s goodness by our circumstances but I believe that is a mistake. That’s not to say that God isn’t interested in those circumstances – I believe he is and we have often seen his active involvement. It’s just that to gauge God by circumstances is a bit like having a 2D rather than 3D view of God.
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a couple of other parables, about a mustard seed and yeast. Both stories talk of small elements that lead to bigger results in time – the small seed that leads to a big tree, the small amount of yeast, which when worked through the dough causes the bread to rise.
It’s easy to only look to God with big issues and for big events and breakthroughs. If we do, we miss what we wants to do in the seeming insignificance of the everyday. The miracle of the everyday is that God offers is to work through our lives all the time, like the yeast in the dough to bring about growth and change.
God wants to deal with our inner life, to hone our character, to bring forth the gifts he has placed within us and to enable us to live a life of hope and humility that prepares us for life’s challenges when they come.
The focus on the outer life, the wider circumstances of life will leave us insecure and dissatisfied. In a few weeks we will have our new kitchen, we will be able to sit next to the new picture window and enjoy the view from the back of the house, making use of the new appliances and enjoying the better use of space. It will make life work better and create the space for hospitality we want. It won’t make it a dream house or give us a dream life. We will be the same people dealing with blessing and battles as before.
When we only ask God to deal with the big issues and problems we minimise what he can do. When we look for the big, superman God and are disappointed that he doesn’t swoop down and fix everything we actually make him smaller. That’s because God wants to be with us all the time and to be in everything. Like the yeast. Bringing sometimes slow but definite change.
The promise is not to make the life around us better but to make us people better equipped for life.