Monday, June 25, 2012


Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. ~ Psalm 127

Justin read this Psalm to our family before he left for work this morning. I’ll describe the scene: all three children were sitting peacefully on my lap, their hands gently folded while they listened attentively to their Papa. Oh wait. No. That’s not what it looked like. Justin did read this Psalm to us but it was while Josh kept escaping from my arms and causing trouble. Jake, annoyed with his little brother’s antics, was visibly impatient to have his Dad finish reading so that he could do something more fun. A sweet but congested Baby Ella had disgusting snot bubbles expanding and shrinking from her nose with each breath, screaming every time I approached with a tissue. And me. I was doing my best to multitask and sorta listen to Justin while wiping noses and catching escapees, but I kept returning to a familiar place: a place where I worry about stuff that I can’t control all the while ‘planning my way to peacefulness’.

The scene is so dishevelled, the picture so imperfect, in need of a little airbrushing to smooth out all the cracks and wrinkles and sin. But in spite of the chaos, and though His voice went almost unheard while Justin read, God’s word came into our home this morning. As the day progressed, those words that Justin read, words of a Psalm that I’ve heard hundreds of times before, kept returning to my mind, eventually piercing my heart.

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. 

All the things that I hope and pray for my life, for my family, for our church, for our city, these things will never come about by planning, or by trying, or by trying harder. My own growth in Christ, or a home that grows in all those right ways that we long to see our family grow, or a church that grows into all those good  things that we hope and pray it might… these things won't come about through mere planning or staunch effort. Will I ever grasp the truth that growth comes through reliance, not through busyness?

It is useless for you to work so hard, from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat.

Even now my mind is quick to ensure balance. The process of growth clearly involves work of a certain nature: prayer is work, striving to put sin to death is work, striving for righteousness is work. But all this work means little when my heart lacks the humility that comes from reliance on Him.

I’m a follower of Christ. I’m trusting that not only has Christ once and forever paid the price for my sin, but that He is the One who will complete in me the work that He began at that first moment of true faith. So even though I rightly should strive to grow and change and live as a Christian should live, any effort I make should be marked by humility and utter reliance.

I’ve been saved, and not of my own doing. Reliance characterizes me. Provision characterizes my God.

My work in this life, the significant and the trivial alike, is marked by reliance on Another for all things. God’s work for me is profoundly characterized by provision: provision on the grandest scale, a provision that saved me from sin; but provision, too, for the smallest details. Why do I worry? Really, why do I worry? Why do I again and again resort to ‘trying harder’ or thinking that enough planning and enough busyness will alter the outcome of events? It is useless. And it is sinful.

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.

Why do I worry when God has promised to provide all that I need, all that my family needs, all that my (His!) church needs? In Christ, God has promised to provide strength. Through Christ, God has promised to provide rest. Upon Christ, God has promised to build His church. I’ve received His perfect, spotless Provision. When will I live as though He’s done enough for me?

This stiflingly hot summer morning began in, what seemed to me, total chaos. Then my husband read God’s word. Nothing magical happened to transform the scene. It was still unbearably hot. The sweaty toddler was still making mischief. The older brother was still impatient to get going. The tiny little one was still unwilling to get cleaned. But then something happened as we went about our day: slowly, but with power and grace, I heard His voice in the words of this Psalm. Worry gave way to repentance, anxiety was replaced with rest.