People ask me how things are going on the new house, and I”m never really sure how to answer them. Sure, over the last week, I”ve helped hang drywall, paint walls and trim, and lay flooring. But when I tour the house, I don”t see any rooms that I could point at and say, “Look! It’s done!” So I struggle a lot with depression. I see all the hustle and bustle of work being done, but is anything really being accomplished? Particularly after a night of painting trim for hours, I feel like I’m spending lots of time but not actually getting anywhere.
My brother has been helping out on Saturdays, and he has a different perspective. Last Saturday, he commented to me that there was a lot that had been done during the week. Since he wasn’t in the middle of the work, he had a better perspective to see what was actually being done.
Also, somewhere in my mind, I know that, very soon, we will do the finishing touches on a number of rooms and suddenly everything will be done. All this apparently futile work will suddenly resolve into a completed house. When it happens, I’ll be totally blind-sided, because I know that I don’t really believe that the work will ever be done.
Your life is like a house being built, and Jesus is the Builder. So often there are times when it feels like there’s all this hustle and bustle in your life, but nothing is happening. You’re still struggling with the same sufferings, failing in the same disciplines, falling for the same sins. And it feels like it will never change.
The Apostle Paul understood this struggle. In one of his letters, he writes of his own wearying struggle against sin:
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:15-25)
However, in another of his letters, he writes this, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jesus has not abandoned you. If He started the project, He will finish it.
On one level, the project will not be done until your death, when you are perfected. But even during this life, Jesus hits milestones along the way. One day, you will suddenly realize that you’re not struggling with that suffering anymore, or that you have established that discipline, or that you have overcome that sin. And you’ll be blind-sided, because you didn’t really believe that Jesus was really doing anything at all.