My mom and I built a patio outside my dining room over Christmas. We were nuts because it was a LOT of work, but it came together and looks really good. I have converted my dining room to a study so as I sit and write this morning, I am looking at my new patio and I believe there is a lesson in it.
You see, placingthe center stones was easy. You just grabbed a stone and placed it, grabbed another stone and placed it, and soon the patio began to take shape. The problem came when you stood back and looked at the big picture. There were a lot of stones we couldn’t lay because of the edges surrounding the patio. The patio is encased by sidewalk, driveway, or brick house. None of those things are giving. There was a lot of cutting to be done. The main portion of the patio took about one hour to build. The outer edges took 2 days to cut and place.
Not so good. Some broke while cutting. Others broke before cutting. Some pieces didn’t fit even after cutting.
There are a lot of things we can learn from a patio.
God is our builder.
The basic structure of who we are is laid fairly quickly. Our personalities, our likes and dislikes, but when it comes to fine tuning us, it takes time. A cut here, a chisel there. And it is slow. You can chisel quickly but it might damage the stone. You can cut without measuring but it might not fit.
I look back on my life and can see the times when God was chiseling, carefully, slowly, in order for me not to break. I can feel His hands, I can see His concentration, and I can almost feel the old worn stone falling off. At times I can look back and see the stone I used to cling to so tightly fallen by the side of my path of life. We get in such a hurry. Believe me, I am preaching to the choir here. I get in such a hurry. But God has the finished product already planned. He even has the stones He is going to cut for my life. And it takes time, patience and well – skill. I trust Him with my life. But in the day-to-day chaos, sometimes I forget who the builder is. No?
There is another way we can look at the patio. Let’s say the patio isn’t you or me, but all of us, all of God’s saints, fitting together in order to form the whole of God’s elect. You see, God knows who will choose him. He knows who He has to wait for to accept Him. In Revelation chapter 6 you meet some martyrs. They are crying out to God saying, “Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?” They are saying, “God, why won’t you judge the earth! How long are you going to wait! Can’t you see what happened to us? They killed us because of YOUR name!”
God answers, “Wait, there are more that will stand for me.”
God says, Wait. I know the exact number that will accept my son. I know the exact number that will shine for Him. Wait.
And I look at my patio. Some of us are the large stones, the big guns, standing out in public, proclaiming the Gospel to hundreds of thousands of people. These are the Billy Grahams, the Beth Moores, the preachers, the missionaries, the leaders that you look up to. Others are the edges. Some are no bigger than a few inches wide. These people don’t feel like the big guns, but they are just as important as the middle stones. Without the edges, the middle would be nothing. Without the edges, the middle would wash away. The edges hold everything in place. Without them, all is lost.
What did Jesus say? “Truly, truly I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16
The one back home, putting that check in for the missionary, or praying for their pastor, or sharpening pencils for the pews, is just as important as the big guns. We all do our part. We all have a share in the kingdom.
What did Paul say? “For the body is not one member (one stone), but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. . . But now God has placed the member, each one of them, in the body (in the patio), just as He desired.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-16, 18
We are all a part. The edges are just as important as the middle.
I don’t know what I am yet. I may be one of the big pieces in the middle; I may be that two inch wide piece on the side. But I do know one thing – God knows just where I fit. So, today, I want you to remember that God is the builder. Let Him place us; let Him chisel us, because when we step back and see the big picture, it will be complete.