We can put so much emphasis on being a leader in our families, churches, and communities that we sometimes forget the importance of being a follower. Last week I was a follower, and I learned some lessons.
I was with a group from my church, First Baptist in Dalton, building the framework for a house church near Blairsville, Georgia. We were helping Carrie and Nathan Dean, a couple with hearts as big as the North Georgia mountains. The Deans have a vision of creating a haven where troubled people can come to find God and peace. Having started a successful church in the inner city of Atlanta, they moved their four young children to the woods, where they are living in a two-bedroom cabin. They plan to use the new home we helped to build as a place to invite and gather folks who may not feel comfortable gracing a traditional church building.
Our group of twenty volunteers arrived on Monday morning to a bare concrete slab on the side of the mountain, surrounded by mud and forest. We had three levels of workers. Three professional contractors from our church gave up their time working on paying jobs to lend their expertise to the project. Next were those who are not professionals but have strong carpentry skills and are active on our church’s wheelchair ramp building team. The final group was the one I fell into — those who may have used a hammer or paintbrush before but knew next to nothing about building a house.
The professionals and semi-professionals understood what we were attempting and could look at the architectural plans and translate them to actual walls. They quickly divided us up into two groups, one putting up the studs and joists for the outside and another group working on the framework for the inside walls.
I was with those working on the outside walls. I had no idea what we were doing. I just did as I was told. I carried two-by-four’s, held the boards while someone ran the dangerous circular saw, and learned to read a level so that I could holler “Go!” when the boards were ready to be nailed.
By the second day I was not as blind a follower as I was when we started. I had learned to anticipate what boards were going to be needed, where I should stand to be out of the way and the best way to be helpful to those doing the actual cutting and nailing. I picked up trash, brought water and painted boards for the rafters. But I still did not have an overall vision of what we were building. I just did the little part that was given to me.
By Day Five, we had put up the skeleton of a house, complete with metal trusses for the roof. We were all exhausted, but in awe of what we had accomplished. With the framework of the house in front of me, I finally understood what we had been doing all week.
As we gathered up tools and packed up to leave, each of us signed our name and a short message on one of the studs, which would eventually be covered with walls. As I thought about what to write, I kept hearing in my mind, “Trust in the Lord and He will direct your path.” I knew I didn’t have the whole verse right, but I took the Sharpie and wrote it on the stud.
The next morning when I turned to my devotional for the day, there was the verse:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will direct your paths.
God was trying to get me to see that framing that house is so much like my relationship with Him. I usually cannot see how God’s plan is going to work out, but I keep doing my little part. Just as I trusted the contractors, who understood what we were building, I am learning to trust that God knows what He is building in my life.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the entire building, tightly framed together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (MWV)