On Sage Avenue, just north of Airport Boulevard in Mobile, Alabama, you’ll find the still-proud structure of St. Pius X Catholic church, built in 1968. I’ve never been inside of it for any reason. But I’ve bragged on it a lot. Especially to my friends at Mrs. Cobb’s Day Care that met at the Methodist church across the street back in the summer of ’69.
In between using tennis racquets as air guitars to tunes like “Proud Mary” and “Daydream Believer,” and acting out our own living music videos to “Seven Little Girls, Sittin’ in the Back Seat, Kissin’ and a Huggin’ with Fred,” we’d hang out on the playground and I’d brag about “My Daddy’s Company.”
Actually it wasn’t his, but he worked for one of Mobile’s premier construction firms during the time when a boy most wants to be proud of his dad.
Martin Builders had just finished the beautiful sanctuary at St. Pius. They also built such local landmarks as the Spanish Plaza and Malaga Inn downtown, parts of Bel Air Mall, and the Mobile Greyhound Park (not to proud of that one). And oh, how I would brag – obnoxiously – about “my Daddy’s company” and what they had done.
My first paycheck came from Martin Builders – a whopping $8.00 for cutting the grass. That evolved into summer work for a couple of hot, humid summers, where I learned what builders actually do and what they need to get the job done.
But even though I was the grandson of a builder for the Corps of Engineers and the son of a man who spent his entire working life in some facet of construction, I had neither the calling nor the skills required to make a living at it. (Technical hint: My approach to trim carpentry was to cut crown molding by angling a Skill Saw and hoping for the best. If you have no clue what that means, it means you don’t want me doing trim carpentry on your house.)
When I did find my calling, however, I still approached it as the Builder’s son. Rather than bricks and sticks, I wanted to be a builder of people’s lives. And through many versions of that story now, I still do.
I came to a new understanding yesterday of why I was so instinctively snotty about my Daddy’s Company as a kid. It’s actually a biblical principle:
The builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself (Hebrews 3:3).
Even as a kid, I knew that it took a great builder (and designer) to build a great house. And I honored the builder because I was proud of my dad.
Now I’m quite sure that this weekend when the faithful gather at St. Pius, not one soul will mention the name “Martin Builders.” But they still honor the builder. How? By trusting him enough to walk by faith into the house that he built. And when they do, at least in the natural, they’ll find their own version of “rest.”
How Would You Choose?
Let me illustrate. Let’s roll back the clock to 1979. Hurricane Frederic is bearing down on the Gulf Coast, particularly Mobile. You’re looking for a refuge – a physical place of safety or rest – and you hear that some local churches are open to the community. Would you trust the house of worship where I grew up – whose sanctuary had a major, sue-the-architect design flaw in the roof and was ultimately condemned and torn down? Or would you trust St. Pius, which, as far as I know, still stands in strength today?
Pressing further, what if St. Pius was perfectly sound to withstand any storm, but you didn’t trust the builder or the architect? What if you suspected him of cheating on the rules of construction or using inferior materials? Storm’s coming. What are you going to do?
More than likely, if you don’t trust the heart of the builder, you won’t risk “entering into his rest.” And in this illustration, you’d face the storm exposed.
The same goes for builders of less tangible things, like spiritual lives or faith or organizations. There is a “rest” that comes when people trust the heart and character of those who lead them. They feel free to receive the benefits of that leader’s influence, wisdom, insight or concern. But when that trust is violated, you could be the greatest “life builder” on the planet, and they won’t receive your “rest” because they don’t trust your heart. I’ve learned that the hard way.
The Builder Behind the builder
For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4, NIV).
Behind every feat of engineering is a God who created a universe of laws and properties and created humans in his image. Those with a heart to know Him and those with humility enough to admit it know this to be true.
Behind every healing encounter is the Ultimate Healer.
Behind every learning experience is the Ultimate Teacher.
Behind every spiritual growth experience is the Good Shepherd.
Behind every word of wise counsel is the Wonderful Counselor.
Behind every touch of a parent’s love is the Everlasting Father.
And regardless of the success or failure of healers or counselors or pastors or parents to earn your trust, He has gone to extraordinary lengths to show you that He can be trusted. And when you do… when you trust the heart of the Builder behind the builder and follow His call, you enter into His rest. And His rest is a wonderful place to be.
Take it from the [frustratingly flawed] Builder’s Son…
Come in from the storm. Trust the Builder, and find your rest.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:9-11, NIV).