Reflections – August 2017
In rocky regions of the world, stone buildings have a history of great longevity. Churches in particular often display great artistic beauty carved into or affixed to their solid stone facades. In homes and other small buildings constructed of stone, they carry a unique charm all their own. In the United States this is especially true of those in New England which supplied many builders with a ready supply of materials from local quarries. Varying stone composition offered a wide range of colors and shadings, adding interest to these buildings. The oldest of these structures began with a stone foundation, often laid so meticulously that no mortar was needed. Then followed solid stone walls, chiseled and fitted to perfection, to support at least two stories and the roof. Modern engineering has changed all that.
Meandering along the back roads of southern New England, I’ve marveled at these stone buildings, many more than 200 years old, so sound they could withstand all the extreme nasty weather nature could buffet them with. Yet they were still vulnerable to the extremes of war and fire. Such was the case just a few years ago when a roaring fire reduced a 150-year-old wooden church in our community to rubble within a few hours. Even the large foundation stones were sufficiently damaged so that when rebuilt, reinforced concrete was substituted for the stone foundation. That was then finished off with a thin stone façade or veneer. Ironically, a short time later one piece sloughed off revealing ugly concrete!
Musing about these stone walls and buildings, I began drawing parallels to our lives as Christians. We come to Christ as spiritually frail and flimsy as a stick shack. Yet over a lifetime, the Holy Spirit, acting as the master builder, does a magnificent job of transforming us into sturdy structures fit for His habitation. Jesus becomes our cornerstone and foundation, and situation by situation He tears down and replaces everything that is weak and flawed with His own strength. Our character is changed and upgraded. Our mind is renewed. Our wills are conformed to His. He doesn’t make us look good by putting a thin façade over a faulty structure, but instead does His greatest work first on the inside. So in time, when someone scratches the surface of who we are, what they will find is solid rock through and through — thoroughly unshakable. And housed within, people will meet a representation of Jesus Himself, radiating the characteristics of compassion, love, peace, joy, wisdom, honesty, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, moral purity, and integrity.
This is achieved only as we relinquish control of our lives to the One who loves us unconditionally. Fellowship with the Lord through His word and prayer brings us into closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus. Our desires change and we seek Him more readily. Our expectations soar and He does not disappoint. Perhaps periodically we need to go on a building inspection tour of our “inner abode” with the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to give us His assessment of the condition of that abode. Perhaps we are due an upgrade so it will no longer be “I who live but Christ who lives in me.”(Gal. 2:20)