Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes will know this about me. I am not a builder. Of anything. Not even a gingerbread house is safe in my hands. In fact, when it comes to making stuff I’ve no more skill than my six-month old baby, J, no matter how cute and builderly-like he may look in his overalls.
My father-in-law can build things. He recently not only built, but also invented, an ingenious contraption to drain the water from his pool. And yes, we all got the tour, and yes, he was proud (and rightly so!)
If I can’t build a gingerbread house without the walls collapsing in on me, and I definitely can’t build a do-it-yourself-deep-pool-drainage-system, why do I presume to think I can build my own life, on my own?
And yet I do. And my self-building habits often come out the most and the worst when there is change in the air.
Like lately. Things are a ch-ch-changing.
The seasons are see-sawing from cold-cold to hot-hot-hot (today was over 35 degrees celsius), and the end of the year is coming fast and hard with deadlines, and college assignments and exams for Dr M, and decisions about work and life for the following year for both of us.
I’ve taken on a course in freelance writing to see if I can get some work out of the drawer (or my head) and into print. And it excites me, and scares me, and excites me. And like anything new I pursue, I’m not very good at pacing myself. I find myself running headlong at my target, forgetting on the way to take enough breaths to make it to the finish line.
And when you have three young kids at home you have to remember to breathe, or life gets a little crazy.
I can do ‘crazy’ pretty well.
And then in the middle of the night I think about this psalm that Dr M’s brother reminded us of just the other day when we visited their gorgeous new baby:
Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
If ever there were a verse that precisely pinpointed my achilles heel this would be it: ‘eating the bread of anxious toil.’ Ahem…yes. Staying up late, rising early, tap-tap-tapping away at the structure of my little life-house with all that I have. Yes. That’s me.
But what else does this passage tells me? Unless the master builder is building, I’m basically tapping at air.
Unless I’m resting in the Lord, I’m not really resting.
Which means I can afford to put down my hammer (or keyboard, or pen, or, let’s be honest, iphone) now and then, and just listen and watch the marvel of his handiwork.
And it’s of course no coincidence that the rest of the psalm goes on to discuss the blessing of family. Anyone following our story probably knows by now that we struggled to have kids. Statistics were against us. Time was against us. And then, after seven or so years of marriage, along came 1,2 and 3.
Our building? Our toiling?
And yet, even with such a dramatic provision right before my eyes, and under my eyes, and boggling my eyes every waking hour of almost every day, still I forget.
Until I remember.
And in the remembering is not a reprimand, but a reassurance: He gives to his beloved sleep.
If only we have faith to take it.