Warning: You Are Entering God’s Construction Zone

by | Jul 7, 2010 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Make room for the
Holy Spirit’s bulldozers. He wants to give you an extreme makeover.

Last spring
during a visit to Charlotte, N.C. I stopped by the Billy Graham Library to take
a tour of the evangelist’s boyhood home and to see his ministry’s offices. In a
shaded grove on the same property I stumbled upon the grave of his wife, Ruth
Bell Graham. Her tombstone bore an unusual inscription: “END OF CONSTRUCTION. THANK YOU FOR YOUR
PATIENCE.”

Mrs. Graham (who
died in 2007) apparently saw these words on a highway sign, and she told
friends that she wanted them on her grave marker. Apparently the message from
the road construction crew reminded her of God’s patient care in preparing her
for heaven.

 “The Holy Spirit, like Nehemiah, comes into our lives like God’s foreman. He clears out the debris, hauls off the rubbish, lays the new foundations, rehangs the doors, reconstructs the gates and rebuilds the broken walls of our lives.”

I have similar
thoughts whenever I pass orange traffic cones on a highway. In Florida where I
live, road crews never seem to finish their work. Once one section of a road is
widened it is time to widen another. Additional bulldozers are needed. And more
construction means more traffic delays, which require more patience from
drivers.

On the journey to
spiritual maturity, all of us must learn the lesson that is carved in Ruth Bell
Graham’s gravestone. We must learn to welcome God’s perpetual construction
crew. If we really want to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, we must
welcome all the heavy equipment He sends into our lives.

Do you hear the
noise? In your life and mine I hear the sound of bulldozers, jackhammers and
pavers at work. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a process that
begins when we invite Christ to take residence in our hearts; it does not end
until we breathe our last.

We tend to think
of the Holy Spirit as being gentle, but sometimes He brings the refining fire
of holiness to burn out our impurities. Sometimes He orchestrates uncomfortable
circumstances to squeeze us, shake us, mold us and shape us. And sometimes we
complain about the interruptions, delays, detours and upheavals that He brings
into our lives for our good.

We aren’t used to
hearing sermons about God’s construction zone. Some preachers believe the
journey of faith is like skipping effortlessly through LaLa Land. We don’t
expect people to conform to the image of Christ; we don’t warn people that
Christlikeness requires brokenness; and we don’t teach that brokenness comes
when we embrace trials and suffering.

Yet the Bible
says: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes
upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing,
so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1
Peter 4:12-13, NASB).

When God wanted
to rebuild a destroyed city of Jerusalem, he raised up a man named Nehemiah to
manage the construction project. Interestingly, Nehemiah’s name means “The Lord
Comforts” or “Comforter”—the same name given in the New Testament for the Holy
Spirit. In the Greek, “Comforter” can mean Paraklete, or “one who is
called alongside to help.”

Yet this Holy
Comforter who has been called to live inside us is not just a cozy security
blanket. The Spirit is also the construction manager of an amazing but
strenuous project. He bulldozes into our lives to excavate, overhaul and
transform. He calls in His road crews, unleashes His heavy equipment and begins
what we could call Extreme Makeover—Heavenly Edition.

Please don’t make
the mistake of thinking that the Comforter is just a refreshing wind, or a
passive force who gives us goose bumps and ecstatic feelings. The Holy Spirit,
like Nehemiah, comes into our lives like God’s foreman. He clears out the
debris, hauls off the rubbish, lays the new foundations, rehangs the doors,
reconstructs the gates and rebuilds the broken walls of our lives.

The rebuilding of
Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day did not come without suffering, hardship and
warfare. But in the end the process resulted in the restoration of God’s glory.
It will be the same for us if we welcome the Comforter.

Will you allow
Him to inspect your attitudes, your motives, your thoughts, your unsurrendered
will and your addictions—and all other areas where you need transformation?
Will you be patient as He sets up His orange cones in your life? Let Him finish
the good work He began in you.

 

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma and author of the new book The

Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale. Follow him on Twitter at leegrady.

 

 

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