Will It Meet with God's Approval?
Recently my husband and I made the decision to have a small house, officially designated by the City of Portland as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), built next to our rental property. We asked the designer who had drawn up the plans for our current home to come up with a floorplan for the 800-square-foot ADU, and invited him and our building contractor to meet at our home one evening to discuss the project.
A day or two before that evening appointment, it occurred to me that the home designer might be interested in walking through our home to see how the plan he had created for us five years earlier actually looks after completion. I wondered: Would he like the surface we had chosen for the kitchen countertops? What would he think of the built-ins we added around the fireplace? Would he consider the wainscoting in the dining room an appropriate choice? The floorplan was attractive and well thought out—my husband and I love our house—but what would its originator think of the decisions we had made in implementing his design? Would he approve of the end result of the plan he had drawn up for us?
As I speculated about his potential reaction, it occurred to me that one day we will all stand before the Great Architect who crafted the “blueprint” for our lives. I thought about Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” That first phrase also could be translated “I know the plans I have for you…” We know God’s plan for our lives is perfect. However, in that day of final inspection when He reviews the spiritual structure we have made during our time on this earth, will He approve? According to the prophet Jeremiah, God’s plan has an “expected end” in view for us. Will the choices we have made be a credit to His plan?
I thought back to the time about six years ago when my husband and I purchased our lot in southeast Portland and began planning for the construction of our home. Immediately, several points of comparison between the home building process and life building process came to mind. Here are a few.
Site analysis. My husband and I learned that a custom home plan starts with an analysis of the building site to evaluate opportunities and problems that will impact the design of the house. Does the lot slope allow for a daylight basement? Is there a view in one direction that could be maximized by the position of the house? How will the required setbacks affect the size of the footprint? Those issues all are factored in when the plan is drawn. Similarly, God knew every detail about the environment where you and I would live and grow, and His plan for us kept those in mind. His design for each of our lives is unique, and perfectly shaped to our individual abilities, personalities, and life circumstances.
Building codes. The City of Portland has many requirements for how residential buildings must be constructed. Their stated purpose is “to provide standards for the protection of life, limb, property, and environment, and for the safety and welfare of the consumer, general public, and the owners and occupants of residential buildings.” My husband and I found that building codes have significant implications for a project. If they are disregarded, when the inspector walks through with his clipboard, he will “red tag” problems that need attention. The building will not pass inspection until those problems are rectified and every aspect meets code requirements.
God also gives instructions for us as we build our lives. His “building codes” are spelled out in the Bible, and they are designed for our ultimate safety and welfare. Those guidelines must be followed if we are to pass His final inspection at the end of our lives.
We do not want to frame our existence on our own preferences and opinions, but upon the One who is the only truly secure foundation.
A good foundation. We learned that a good foundation—the element of an architectural structure which connects it to the ground—is critical. In addition to resisting the movement of the earth around it, the foundation also insulates the structure against moisture and cold. Our spiritual structures must be securely attached to Christ; we read in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” God must be in His proper place as the basis of our lives. We do not want to frame our existence on our own preferences and opinions, but upon the One who is the only truly secure foundation. He will provide stability for our lives and keep us steady when everything around us seems to be shifting, and will protect us from natural forces that could have a negative impact.
Product choices. As the framing phase began, my husband and I went through several months when we were continually making decisions. In fact, we probably made more choices during that period than at any other time in our prior forty years of married life! There were questions regarding roofing and flooring options, plumbing and lighting fixtures, interior and exterior finishes, and heating and cooling units. We discussed whether the kitchen cabinets should have glass or solid doors, and how we wanted the attic area finished. The list went on and on! Generally, our product selections were made on the basis of cost, operability, maintenance, and life expectancy. We knew these choices were not insignificant details; each one contributed to the quality of the end product, so we considered all of them carefully.
Day-to-day choices will impact the quality of the final product. Will we discipline ourselves to choose our words carefully so they align with God’s instructions for how His followers should speak?
In our spiritual building project as well, day-to-day choices will impact the quality of the final product. Will we discipline ourselves to choose our words carefully so they align with God’s instructions for how His followers should speak? Will we focus on what God tells us to focus on, and treat others with love, mercy, and kindness? Choices like these will determine whether we receive God’s ultimate stamp of approval, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
In construction, there is a continuous exploration of options for the building’s components as new or different requirements, constraints, and information is presented. Our Christian lives are not static either; situations, resources, and circumstances change. God expects us to grow and mature as Christians. Are we continually learning and applying what we have learned to our spiritual building project?
Price considerations. Like most home builders, my husband and I had to work within a budget, so the price of products was always a consideration. We elected to upgrade and enhance parts of the house that were important to us and economized on items that were not. In our spiritual building, we must carefully evaluate the “cost” of our choices. Some decisions may seem desirable at the moment, but will they truly serve us well spiritually? Are they durable, or will they shortly need adjustment and “repair”? Will we be happy with the choices we made when we come to the end of life?
As it turned out, our appointment with our contractor and the designer of our current home ended up being focused entirely on the upcoming ADU project, and the creator of our house plan never did walk through our home to observe the choices we made. The fact is, his opinion regarding the details of our home really does not matter. When he handed over the blueprints to us five years ago, his job was done. However, God’s interest in us is never-ending, and His evaluation at the end of our lives will matter! As we look ahead to that day, we want to keep in mind that God is not only aware of the day-to-day choices we make, but He has a personal and deep concern about every detail that will affect our eternal outcome. Let’s do our best to make sure He is pleased at that great final inspection!