On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share about mystery, wonder about faith and the long walk of obedience, tell stories about Gossip Girl and God’s grace. We would love for you to join us in the comments. You can read his last letter to me here.
I write this to you while you are on retreat, away from iPhones, computers, the incessant buzz and hum of another notification. You’re away to think, and to pray, to draw near to the well and draw water. I hope it is full to overflowing, that well, this weekend. I hope that you draw near only to find that He always and already there.
I called this post, “He builds the house.” I know it’s technically true – Psalm 127 tells us that He does. He builds the house, and if we build it without Him, we labor in vain. Sometimes this means I don’t get to build a house.
I picture myself with a blueprint, staring at my handiwork. The perfect job will go here, the boyfriend here, the right amount of distance between me and my parents will go here. I will make just this much money, have this kind of monthly budget that allows for all of this coffee drinking and friendship building. I will put in a special room just for all the letter writing I will do, to all the people I love.
It starts to rain. It’s rained here for a week without stopping. And it’s not the pretty rain that comes after a drought and cools the air. No, this is the steady, incessant, plodding rain. The rain that drips out of the sky. It’s halted day trips and walks to the pond, it’s halted running in the early morning light. I hold my blueprint up against the sky and watch as it starts to bleed, the heavy raindrops crashing into those perfectly laid plans, those big ideas of what it would be, and how. Unless the Lord builds the house…
I am mad about it. I can tell because I keep having frantic dreams right before I wake up, dreams where I’m always running around, looking for someone or something. I wake up near tears with worry, and have to tell myself over and over again that it wasn’t real, that person wasn’t looking for me, that I didn’t lose something precious, that her mother wasn’t actually giving a science presentation at my school to which I walked in twenty minutes late and had to sit in shame in the front row (the dreams are strange, let me tell you). I’m angry at God for making me wait, angry that I’m angry, impatient with my lack of patience.
I’m mad at myself for not wanting to count 1,000 gifts again, for not reminding myself of the story of how He wildly blessed and even more wildly promised. But I’m mad at Him too, for giving me a pen and a heart that dreams and for this blueprint I keep showing Him that He says, “Unless the Lord builds the house.” Why did you give me this pen? I want to scream. Why do you let us dream anyway, if all you’re going to say when I show you what I’ve made is that You must build the house?
And while I’m crumpling up my paper in frustration, I’m reminded that somewhere else, Jesus talks about building houses.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Unless the Lord builds the house.
Unless knowing Jesus is the hope and reassurance and terrifying reality and ultimate promise.
Unless I let the rain come down and bleed my beautiful blue pen into the smudges and uncertainties again of trusting that He who builds the real house? He is good.
Love, and grace and peace to you to trust Him who builds houses and draws water from the well and loves us with everlasting love,