Remember the Why

Several years ago, the youth group from the congregation I was serving was on a Habitat for Humanity work site in Louisville, Kentucky.  We were working on a home for a single mom and her three children.  It was hot, sweaty, dirty work, and as the week progressed, our work team’s pace slowed significantly.  

There was a kid, probably 9 or 10 years old who would ride his bike over to our work site and hang out every day.  He’d talk to our kids, swing from tree branches, and generally be a pleasant pest.  We liked him.  He always had energy, was always laughing and always looking for ways to distract our group.

One particularly hot, sweaty afternoon, during a water break, our group was all crowded into a single shady spot and this kid was running around, being his hyper little self, and one of the young women in our group asked him: “How is it that you’ve always got so much energy?  Why are you so perky ALL THE TIME?”  He smiled and said: “My Momma says that Jesus is going to build us a house!”  And he pointed at the foundation of the home.

There was a moment of stunned silence.  And suddenly we understood:  This was going to be his house.  He was one of the children who would live there.  

And our whole group looked around at each other.  And they pulled themselves up off of the ground, grabbed their shovels and other tools, and with a bit of new energy, returned to work.  In that moment, they understood that their work was not digging a foundation and framing a house, it was to help provide a home.

“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  – 1 Cor 3:10-11

If Jesus lays the foundation, and relies on God’s people to build, what does it mean to “build with care?”  I think this little boy on our work site taught us that it means to know the story of what is being built; to know and understand the “why.”  Why do we build?  Why do we labor?  What is the purpose, the point and the mission?  It was to build a home, not a just a house.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to build randomly.  There is a purpose to what God asks us to do:  In Matthew 22, Jesus lays out the greatest commandment:  Love God, and love your neighbor.  That’s it.  Simple. 

But it’s only simple when we remember.  It’s only simple when we embed this great commandment deep with our hearts. 

When we remember, when the great commandment becomes a part of our identity, we can walk, and serve, and love with a new energy.  We are reminded that God created us for a purpose.  And we can build on the foundation, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be a part of building something beautiful.  

This devotion was first published as one of the regular devotional pieces from Good Earth Village, one of Trinity’s partner ministries and the outdoor ministry/camp site in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod

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