Build It Right

The following was originally published in the February 2013 Newsletter.

For the past two and a half years I have been working on rehabbing a house. It is difficult to juggle the responsibilities of the ministry with the work that needs to be done on the house. To say it is a challenge is an understatement. The good news is that the work is almost finished. I am looking forward to being able to focus solely on the work of ministry again.

As I write this, I am nearing the end of installing flooring throughout the house. It is the last major project to be completed. I am weary physically but excited at the prospect of having the bulk of the work concluded. The floors I am installing are an engineered oak. They are stained a rich mahogany color. They look beautiful. But the most important part of the floor is the part you don’t see. It is the vapor barrier underneath.

Because the house is built on a concrete slab, I’m taking special care to ensure that the floors will still look beautiful 25 years from now. Water is a wood floor’s worst enemy. Moisture from the slab and the earth underneath it will try to find a way into the wood, so a sheet of plastic must be laid to suppress it. On top of the plastic, I’m placing two layers of roofing felt as an additional moisture barrier. The plastic vapor barrier and the roofing felt work together to ensure that no water gets through. They keep the enemy at bay.

To be honest, it takes a long time to lay down the plastic, tape all the seams, cut around the doors, and then to repeat the process with the two layers of felt. It is difficult work and it takes away time I could be using to do the pretty stuff everyone will see. I would much rather just get busy installing the beautiful floors. But if I fail to do it right, all of my labor will be in vain. If any water gets through, the flooring will eventually be ruined. It might look pretty for awhile, but eventually cracks will appear, boards will buckle, and the entire investment will be lost.

That sounds a lot like life.

Too many people want their lives to look good on the outside, but don’t want to spend the time working on the foundation that protects them from the enemy – a personal relationship with God. That relationship is the barrier that protects us from the enemy, just as a vapor barrier protects wood from water damage.

Our enemy wants to destroy us. He wants you to think you can make life work apart from a relationship with God. Just go to church, sit when it’s time to sit, sing when it is time to sing, and shake the Pastor’s hand on your way out. “That’s what a good Christian does,” he whispers. And so you go to church, you follow the rules, and you try hard to keep everything looking good. But you have no relationship with God to protect you from the enemy. You must remember that your enemy seeks to destroy you. This is no small thing. Without a genuine relationship with God, eventually the enemy is going to break through and your life will be ruined. All the work you did trying to do all the right things will be in vain.

And yes, relationships take work. You invest time in a relationship. The time you spend with God, talking with him and enjoying his presence, most folks will never see. But it is vital. Nothing can replace it and nothing can protect you from the enemy without it. You might look good for awhile, but eventually the cracks will appear, your knees will buckle, and all the time you spent trying to keep up appearances will have been for nothing.

I have said this before and I will say it again and again: you need a real, personal, authentic relationship with God. Jesus felt it was so important that he elevated loving God above every other commandment. Everything depends on this one thing.

Friend, where are you in your relationship with God? Do you have a thriving relationship with God or are you trying to make life look good apart from him? Sadly, it will never work. Perhaps as you are reading this today, if you were honest with yourself you would admit that you have spent years trying to make your life look good apart from a vital relationship with him. But you are weary. You are broken. You know there must be more.

The good news is that you can have that kind of relationship with God. Today take some time just to sit and talk with him. Turn off the TV. Turn off the video game and the radio. Be still for a moment and get to know God. Talk with him. Tell him you want that kind of positive relationship with him. Ask him to forgive you for trying to make life work apart from him. You’ll find God wants that relationship with you far more than you can imagine.

Solomon wrote “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1, ESV). Friend, don’t labor in vain. Build your life on a real, personal relationship with God. Grow in relationship with him. It’s not glamorous and most people will never even see it. But it keeps your life looking great and protects you from the enemy as well.

Remember, build it right. The vapor barrier must be in place before you can build the pretty stuff. It’s a barrier that’s a blessing.