It was arguably the worst house we’d been in all week – not that it lacked for competition! Over two weeks since the floodwaters had risen several feet up the walls in this home, closet floors were still stacked full of soggy clothing. Pots of grease and cooked food stood in pots on the stove. Piles of personal belongings awaited triage in several rooms.
We were getting used to the rats nests behind the drywall in these houses, but the ammonia smell (not from cleaning products) was overwhelming as we tore up the kitchen floor.
God knew what we needed to get us through that day…
Our devotional that morning centered on building God’s Kingdom. A kingdom is a territory under control of a king. God, for the purpose of providing a greater way to reveal His glory, has temporarily relinquished control of some “territory” to the enemy. That provides us with the opportunity to reclaim some of that territory for the Kingdom of God.
Luke 17:21 tells us that, “the kingdom of God is within you.” The territory we’re reclaiming is in our hearts – the hearts of those we serve, those we serve with, and our own.
Truth and love are the weapons we use in this battle. 1 Peter 1:22 tells us, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart”
There’s an old story about a man walking down the sidewalk in a big city. He saw a construction project across the street. As he watched the work, his curiosity grew about what they were building. So he walked across the street to where a man with a brick in one hand and a trowel in the other was working. “What are you doing?” the man asked. Without looking up, the worker grumbled back, “I’m laying brick, what does it look like?” This was an accurate answer, but not what the man was looking for.
So he walked down the street until he found another bricklayer and asked, “What are you doing?” The worker glanced up and answered, “I’m just earning a paycheck.” Another accurate, but not particularly useful answer.
He approached a third bricklayer and again asked, “What are you doing?” This worker looked the man in the eye and with great pride replied, “I’m building a cathedral!”
The point is that our perspective matters. Yes, it’s true that we’re tearing out drywall and wet insulation, pulling nails, hauling out debris, and other laborious tasks. We’re also listening to, encouraging, and helping people. And there’s a sense that we get a “paycheck” — the reward of feeling good about being a blessing to these flood survivors.
But the endurance to make it through a job like this one required us to draw strength from a higher motivation: We’re using the truth and love of Jesus Christ to win back “territory” from the enemy for the Kingdom of God. That passion overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles!