“Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.”
April 25, 2023
It’s Day Five up at Guthrie Lake, Michigan. My mom and dad come up this early every year to open the cabin for rentals after the long winter. I’m glad we decided to come along this year. It’s been sweet. Peaceful. Also exhausting. Funny that those things can co-exist. That you can be so physically drained and yet find that some of your inner wrestling has settled. I think living a different rhythm for a minute has given some needed space to sit with the changes, to ask questions, to gain clarity and to acknowledge what remains unresolved.
My whole family is sick. I’m now using an inhaler multiple times a day. We’ve had many, many Abi tantrums. Failures, tears, walks in the woods, and grace. Cold weather and aching throats. Fussy baby, another ear infection, rocking by the fire at 2 a.m., and discovering beaver-chewed trees. Another round of searching for houses in the woods on the water. Nothing’s turning up that we can afford. Cody seems like if we found something, he’d want to go for it – to set us up with housing for furloughs – with land we can start paying off and renting out while we’re overseas, maybe even blessing other families with it as we’re able to. I, too, have a growing desire to own a place that confuses me sometimes…but I have a lot of hesitation about the amount of stress it could add to our lives this year as we prepare in so many other ways to return to life and ministry overseas. Especially just coming out of my weakest, shakiest years ever, it’s hard to judge where I am strong enough to face risk and challenge again, and where I will buckle if I push too soon.
Here’s what I keep coming back to:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the work of the builders is wasted…it is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working…”
God says that the anxious work that robs me of rest is useless. Wasted. What the Lord builds, that’s what stands. How much restlessness have I endured, so concerned about whether dearly-held hopes for my life will come together, instead of standing in confidence that the Lord is building – and that what He is building will stand?
“The Lord will work out his plans for my life – for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever…”
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.”
God is a good communicator. He is the source of peace. He is able to lead and guide me every step of the way. He’s building the details of my small life, and with it, He is also building something so much bigger. I have every reason for confidence.
“For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.”
My whole heart is before you. Not just with thoughts of a settling place for my family when we face transition again, but with all our hopes, all that we’ve worked toward, and all our worries and burdens.
I want to rest content, holding all that I do not yet grasp in surrender. I want to walk bravely, thoughtfully, patiently, and humbly. I want to work with all my might and rest when it’s warranted, even when the need for rest comes unexpectedly.
Lord, quiet my anxious heart. Give us lamplight for the next step. Give us unity and peace if you are granting us a desire that takes risk. Help us to wait on you. Encourage our hearts for the calling of parenting our kids and shepherding them toward you. Fix my gaze on you alone.
My work is in vain unless you carry it out.
So I will not labor anxiously, striving to bring about things that I cannot. Not in my life, not with my kids, not even in my own heart. I must hold in view who does the work.
I will hold out for what you are giving and labor heartily according to the route you are carrying us along, even when it confuses me.
Give us understanding, Lord – that we may use our small strength well – given to the One who can multiply it.