Tear down that wall?

A few years ago, I took the youth on a mission trip to Tennessee. Our group was tasked with working on an old house that had become decrepit and overwhelming to maintain by the single, middle-aged woman who lived in it. Our team was the assignment to repair and restore the water damaged interior, as well as the installation of a new roof. It was a huge undertaking, but I knew that our group could accomplish much in a week’s time.

I soon discovered more serious defects in the home when I saw the ceiling sagging over the kitchen. It was evident that a load-bearing wall had been removed at some point to expand the size of the kitchen and build an addition to the house. It might have seemed like a great idea at the time, but the expansion was not well thought out, and expert advice had not been sought for consultation. Now, the home was in danger of collapsing in on itself! Our youth group was asked to replace the ceiling with new drywall, sand, spackle and paint it. I was uncomfortable with doing this because of my fear that our work would only conceal a much larger problem. I was assured by the mission trip organizers that an “expert” with construction experience would be stopping by to instruct us how to reinforce the sagging roof. A very young man did indeed stop by, and his remedy was to jack the ceiling up with temporary construction pillars and drive long screws into the trusses to somehow pull the ceiling back up into place. I am not a structural engineer, but I knew this would not work! We were not equipped to make the proper repairs. A qualified engineer’s assessment and instruction was needed. We proceeded to complete the work that we were asked to perform that week, and it did look much better than when we arrived. The roof, that we installed, looked wonderful on the outside and irritating leaks were no longer a problem. However, I have wondered about the section over the kitchen. A simple snowstorm could still bring it down.

This story made me think about how we may sometimes conduct our lives when relating others in our families, our churches and our workplaces. We come up with what we think is a great idea at the time, but there’s a “wall” in the way in the form of people who do not sign on to our plan. The convenient solution is to remove the “wall” spackle, and paint over any evidence that the wall was ever there. That “addition” looks great, but problems arise, when we begin to realize that the “wall” was actually an important part of our structural integrity. Without the wall, the roof begins to sag and the whole structure is in danger of collapsing in on itself. Adding a little more paint and spackling is not going to be able to cover up the obvious issues any longer. Denial and praying the problems away won’t work either, because it is the lack of prayer and careful planning that gets us into such situations in the first place. Along with prayer, putting aside our pride, admitting to our errors and seeking the advice of a properly trained “engineer,” are necessary steps to avoiding a disastrous collapse. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand,” Matthew 12:25 (NIV).

Feel free to contact me if you wish to connect with others at Crossing Community Church, tracy@crossingcoummunity.org.