Many years ago I used to be a carpenter. I learned a lot during that time about construction, hard work and the building process. After the foundation is level, solid and crack-free, the stud walls start to go up on a house. One day, as walls were starting to be raised on this job site I was on, I felt we were spending an extraordinary amount of time leveling the walls. I mean, we were leveling side to side, top to bottom and for “rack” as well. It seemed like we were wasting a lot of time with, what seemed to me, overkill on this phase of the project we were on.
A few hours of this torturous process went on, when I finally spoke up and said: “Why don’t we just get on with building this house? I mean, we are never going to finish it at this rate.” So, my very patient boss took the time to explain a couple of principles about building. I learned that after the foundation is poured correctly, the stud walls must be true all the way around; leveled perfectly and plumbed correctly. “Why”? I asked with a confused look. My foreman began to explain how mistakes travel upwards. Huh? I was definitely thrown off of the bucking bronco now! I discovered that whatever is off by as little as an 1/8 of an inch on the bottom, could travel upward( the “un-plumbness”) and at the roof level it could be out of whack by a couple of inches. Well, that just isn’t going to work now; is it? You can’t have your roof out of square by that much. You won’t be able to lay your plywood down, or shingle it, or run your gutters and possible even the rafters won’t be in a proper layout as well. What does that do? It makes it difficult to buffet the storms that will come upon that house; and believe me, they WILL come.
Most of you that know me, know I am also a musician of about 30 years. I have been singing since I was a small boy and playing guitar since about 16 years old. I can remember the first time I heard the song Eruption by the secular group Van Halen. I was sort of mesmerized by that sound. That growling guitar just popped out of the mix and started evoking in me some creativity that I didn’t have before. So, I just had to learn how to play guitar.
It took, what seemed an eternity to save up for an electric guitar; but when I finally had money in fist, I marched down to Guitar Center and selected a black beauty and took it home. That day felt more like I was rescuing a dog from the pound than making a purchase.
Days went by quickly as I played the rock star in my Fortress of Solitude(My bedroom). I did windmills like Pete Townsend with head banging vigorously up and down while making sure to rock out at every free opportunity. Fingers blazed, distortion crunched and searing; albeit out of tune, notes jumped right out of the newly purchase black electric guitar. The honeymoon shortly passed and I got a lot more serious about studying my guitar. During that season of my life, I just wanted to solo and shred licks everywhere. So, I studying the Solos of Satriani, Vai, Johnson, Van Halen, Moore and Malmsteen. While spending so much time on very advanced techniques, I discovered something alarming one day: I was a lop-sided guitar player.
This was quickly brought to my attention as I played a jam session with an experienced older player. We sat down together and both of us removed our guitars from their cases, plugged in our amps and waited for the magic to unfold. The older gentleman start playing a simple vamp with very common chords and rudimentary changes. I began to tingle all over as I was “feeling it” and was preparing my onslaught of sonic profundity. Shaking my right hand to loosen it up seemed to be in order; I mean I was preparing to make quite an impression. I slowly grabbed my volume knob while the nice man kept faithfully playing the vamp and turned it up. Pow, I let loose a fury of complicated licks and tricks that I thought would totally impress and evoke a new devotion in my ability; what came out was; NOISE. The experienced player grimaced and immediately stopped playing. After I noticed the silence, I opened up my tightly shut eyes to look at him to read his expression. Nope, no amazement in his countenance. No expression of admiration was awashing over him. In fact, it appeared he might even be a little angry. So, I let a couple of seconds tick off of the clock in silence and he began to share something with me. He asked me if I was feeling the progression of the chords. I answered: “What do you mean”? Then he said: “Hey Son, why don’t you play these chords and let yourself feel what is going on in the music.” My fingers tried, to no avail to fret the chords as he was doing. No joy! The man’s face was instantly overcome with a wry smile and he calmly said to me: “You just wanted to shred; didn’t you? And, you didn’t see the need to learn the basics of rhythm, chords and simple progressions?” Busted! He totally nailed it.
Basically, I wanted to build a house very quickly so I could peer from atop the roof and have my guitar soar into the wind like an eagle with my mullet gently flowing in the breeze. I quickly hammered my skills together and forgot to plumb the walls, lay a solid foundation and build it slowly and true. My lesson that day was hard for me to choke down; but I knew I had to swallow that pill no matter what. So, I took a hammer and demolished that rickety house of my guitar playing and started building on a firm foundation and plumbing up some walls.
We can experience something puzzling in our lives. Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, get bored quickly. Often, we will want to rush quickly past the place where we are and speed up the mountain at a break-necked pace to reach the peak; because, that is where we think the joy is at. Don’t do that; especially if things are rough for you right now. If you rush passed what God wants you to learn in this season, you may have to take in this hard lesson all over again because you didn’t absorb all that Jesus wanted you to acquire from it in the first place. You can’t rush a beautiful house. It must be built solid and true because the trials are GOING to come. The Lord wants your house to stand up for Him. But, it won’t if the walls aren’t plumbed and square because you are uncomfortable where you are at right now. It is so important that we don’t get ahead of God and rush things. When I do that, my house is not being built in a fashion that will be able to withstand the floods and the rain.
Let the Word of God speak to your hearts and let this verse roll around in your mind awhile.
It is: Luke 6:47-49 ” Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (ESV)
Don’t be afraid of pain and the hard place that the Lord has you; embrace it. Thank the Lord for where you are at; for you know that He is continuing to build upon the good work that he started in you; to make you solid and firm, able to withstand the enemy’s onslaught.
The Great Plains Poet, always in construction and willing to wait for the Lord to complete this rugged old house.
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Enjoy the poem.
A House That Leans
By Chris T.
I found a patch of dirt on which to build my life.
It was unto me a new beginning to construct again.
So, I ventured to rise up some sticks and mortar,
A place of pride and a stronghold of self.
Seeking the beauty of a glossed shimmering facade,
I threw up my walls with speed and indifference.
Concerning myself with only the beauty of sweeping gables and elegant down valleys,
So the pinnacles arise into a higher place than others.
This is my construction plan and my will.
Nails are sunk flush with hammers full of disregard,
For the form, for the lines and for the solidity of strength.
But, up it went; my little house and a great sense of pride,
That I have made something above everyone else.
Storm after storm, came and chipped away at stucco and brick.
Shingles they fell and gutters became overwhelmed.
I began to see the moon shinning through the ceiling of my living room.
But in my futility, I still danced upon my soggy carpet oblivious to my hasty mistake.
For I discovered, a little too late, to not build a home in haste,
To take the time to construct it true.
Letting not impatience dictate the strength that’s imbued,
Forsaking its plumb for a shine that gleams,
Because my domicile is a house that leans.