The property programme Grand Designs is about to return to our TV screens. Viewers are captivated by the wonderful buildings that emerge from the wreckage and become dream homes for the participants. To say that it’s not all plain sailing would be an understatement! I found these “before” and “after” photos (www.getawayguru.com.au) of one such redevelopment and thought you might like to see the contrast.
As in property, so in life. We hold grand designs of what life should look like, only to be disappointed when things get tough. The redevelopments we want to make take too long, are too costly and ultimately aren’t as perfect as our imagination led us to believe. What we thought was a quick splash of paint turned out to be a scraping off of cruddy old wallpaper, taking plaster with it. Then a re-plaster, the smell and time that we didn’t factor into the schedule.
Why are we surprised?
Building a life is costly. There will be some quick fixes – a lick of paint, a polyfilla of a few little holes – but there are big structural factors that go on for a lifetime.
Jesus warned that people should count the cost before following him (Luke 14:28-30). He didn’t and doesn’t want a naive commitment that anticipates only blessings in life. He expects it to be tough – “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? (Mark 8:34-36)
Why are we surprised?
Earlier in that chapter Jesus talks about his kingdom coming through his own suffering and death so why should life be easy for me?
Following Jesus is costly. I used to think that I could get away with building a small extension where I could give God his own space and keep him contained. What a miscalculation!
I’m learning slowly that following Jesus is living by his grand design. I want my life to be worth his investment, to know that he’s at work and won’t give up on me, and to be sure, as was the apostle Paul, that-
“God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished.” (Philippians 1:6)
“Did we suppose that the kingdom of God would mean merely a few minor adjustments in our ordinary lives?”