Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Gradual Transformation and a Self-Examination

If you've read much of my other writings about our little church, you may have gathered that it is in a pretty dilapidated state. I haven't fully blogged regarding what its problem is. About 50 years ago, I gather, it burned. The church had no insurance and rebuilt with what they had. Because it wasn't a wealthy church, they built it poorly with cinderblock, unreinforced with any rebar. Over the years the walls have become troubled with moisture leakage, and therefore within the walls, within the cinderblocks, we have mold and mildew. (This doesn't show visibly very much on the walls, but there are places where the odor of it gets kind of strong sometimes, and affects some members of the congregation more strongly than others.)
The congregation has been planning to build, but with some frustration over gaining road access to the beautiful property that one couple kindly gave the church. With plans to build, and a small congregation, there hasn't been much interest, energy or money to maintain the building we have, especially since the structure itself will probably be of no value when we sell; only the property. Still, with no particular building timeline in view, I've been praying for vision and clarification, and working on painting the inside, with help from three others, and we're getting a work party together to fix up some of the outside grout so that the outside also can be pressure-washed and painted.
It seems to me that God's hand has been very strongly favorable toward getting these things done. I've had unusual time, energy, and free paint, even in the right neutral, clean and cheery colors--the neighboring city has a program that recycles paint to avoid having it in the dump. Also, we lived in a 1907 fixer-upper house for 17 years where I learned how to research and repair things; I know and understand some of what old buildings are about and what it is to paint. It has occurred to me, to my delight, that God is using that 17 year experience for His Kingdom now. So I've been there a lot painting. Still, I end up getting a little extreme. I work and get a little overexuberant, a little strident maybe, lately, in my desire to see it as fixed up as we can do--not bossing anyone around, just poking around more than anyone is used to, and trying to find any place where a mold problem can be easily fixed (since reducing its odor was one of my main motivations).
I think our pastor looks a little askance at all this activity and change, though I was hoping it would encourage him. (And I think it has, except when he sees me a little overly absorbed in it.) He preached on Mary and Martha last Sunday. It just occurred to me now, was that a hint? (Surely not...) Still, I don't think anyone in the world has heard me breathe one complaint, one "Why don't you make Mary get up and help me?" No, I haven't. I love every brushstroke, every roller stroke; if "Mary" wants to help, it's great, but I'm having fun on my own. It's so gratifying to see so much change in so little time!
Still, when Pastor came down to help me by getting a dehumidifier out to dry up some moisture I'd left by cleaning a wall, I walked through with him and discussed various issues along the way. I realized I was making him somewhat nervous. He never makes me nervous (probably never makes anyone nervous, at least unless they should have reason to be) and I was sorry to think I'd troubled him. He pointed out later that I should make sure I'm getting my work orders at the feet of Jesus. Another link between Mary, Martha, and me. Mainly, I think, Martha and me. (Sigh.)
So if I've been praying pretty continually regarding all the work, but then getting a little strident as I go, I think something is getting mixed up. Am I dropping His orders and filling my own? Are my motivations wrong? I felt Pastor's nervousness meant I'd been lacking for the right attitude and trampling toes some, though I had been thoroughly enjoying the work; actually getting kind of excited because some plans were becoming actualized and things were going so well. I just have to be careful how I affect others along the way, and that I go in His strength and not my own.
I hope to get a picture of the church as it is (didn't take any before-pictures of the inside) to post, and then post one after it's painted so we can compare before and after shots regarding the outside paint job. It's a great little building, in my mind, though probably just because I associate it with how great it is to be there on Sunday mornings. It's the best! I'd rather we'd keep that little building than have a towering cathedral, if the people inside had to be different too.
I asked Pastor today at church whether I had indeed made him nervous, trampled his toes, so to speak...and he said no, that his main concern was that I was actually getting my orders from Christ. So all is good, and I just imagineth too much. Praise God!

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