It ain't about the house!
Big thanks to Steve Marshall for his return engagement to share the next chapter in his ongoing story. If you want to give it a listen (or another listen), it will be posted at https://www.convoynwa.org/audio/. Over the remainder of the month of February, we will explore this story from three angles, which will be our model for 2018: What did you hear? How does it apply? What will you do with it? I encourage us all not to rush these conversations. It's easy to skip to step 3, whether you're the intuitive type and already have an idea of where this plane is going to land, or you just enjoy being first to the finish line. Let's allow space for the Spirit to lead our thoughts and see what He opens up for us.
As I listened to "Achiever Steve", I heard a man who isn't pretending to have everything figured out. He (like his house) is a work in progress. That encouraged me, because I am too. Interestingly, even though the house played a prominent role in the story, the story was not about the house. It seems like God has a way of leading us through circumstances that highlight our need for Him. For Steve, there was some pressure inherent in the project, but that was amplified to a whole new level when the physical, mental, and emotional health of his wife and children seemed to depend on finishing the project. As the task wore on, Steve became more driven, more desperate, and more distant. With only cursory time for worship and Bible study, no time for meditation or journaling, and no time for fun and family, life in the Marshall house became almost unlivable, to the point that the long-suffering Mrs. Marshall finally said "ENOUGH!"
This confirmed what Steve was already hearing from God, a message that simply said "Rest...." The problem? Steve didn't know how to rest. With no understanding of Sabbath, he saw no way he could possibly afford to rest under the circumstances he was in. There was far too much to be done. But he and his wife committed to Sabbath anyway. Deciding that they would unplug from daily duties and spend time recharging their batteries in exclusive pursuit of God and their family from noon Saturday to noon Sunday each week, they started down a path. They and the kids took turns picking what the family activity of the week would be. Steve's children got their dad back. And Steve started seeing into the hearts of his children like never before. He and his bride reconnected. Most importantly, they began to see God and His purposes in their lives and home again.
Guess what? The house isn't done yet. The anticipated 30-day project is now going on 11 months. The Sabbath journey isn't complete yet, either. Not every weekend goes exactly according to plan, and there is a constant temptation to take back control. Steve is still learning that he does not need to be the "Sole Provider", but the "Soul of Provision" under the care of his Father. As long as he stays on that path, I think the Marshalls are going to be just fine. And the house, regardless of when renovations are complete, will be a home....
God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me—
The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.
You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’ You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!
You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’ Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?
Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker. Before a mere five you’ll all run off.
There’ll be nothing left of you—a flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”
But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. - Isaiah 30:15-18 (MSG)