Quietly but firmly my mentor kept bringing me back to what was said. I protested that it was all unfair. Studying me, he answered, “It may be unfair, but that’s the way it is.” I left our meeting with a huge persecution complex telling myself that it was all right. I would stick to my guns no matter what “they” said.
Butit became harder to remain self-righteousness. What if they were right? What if what I so quickly dismissed as unimportant really was very important? If they were right then I had some real work to do. But what about all the other things I did well that they ignored? It was then that I thought of it in picture form.
I imagined that I was taking my mentor on a tour of a beautiful home that I had built. As we entered the front door he could see the care I put into the porch and the entryway. There was a grand staircase built with the greatest craftsmanship. As we walked through the house I pointed out this feature or that one, then, when we were all finished, I turned to him and said, “What do you think?”
“It’s all very nice,” he said, “but I couldn’t help but notice one defect.”
“Defect?” I gasped. “What do you mean?”
“The house is beautiful but you forgot to build a back wall.”
“How can you criticize me for that? Didn’t you see the carpets, the hardwood floor and the magnificent fireplace? I think you’re being too critical. You need to look at what’s right about my house.”
“But, Allen,” he said, “You can’t ignore the fact that you are missing the back wall.”
By now I was fuming. Why did his kind always have to find fault? Sure, the back wall was missing but it was a model house otherwise. How unreasonable can people be?
He continued, “Don’t you know that the whole house will come to ruin if you don’t build the missing wall? Despite all the care you put into the house, it is incomplete without the wall. You can’t ignore that.”
As silly as this illustration may seem it is exactly what I was doing when confronted with an area of my life that needed addressing. My defensiveness could not erase the defect. But more than that, if I was truly serious about giving myself fully to the Lord and asking Him to shape me as He would, how could I complain when the information came so clearly to me? Alas! I am like most of the human race. When I asked the Lord to take me and make me as I should be I secretly hoped He wouldn’t expose the defects or make me go to some great effort to address them. Rather, I wanted Him to lead me from blessing to blessing as I built on what I considered to be important. But growth doesn’t occur just upward. More important it occurs through pruning and cutting, sometimes leaving surgical scars. Paul in writing to the Philippians told them that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6). Completing it sometimes means pointing out to us where the work needs to be done.
I wish I could say that realizing this has made it easy, that now I relish this part of my ministry. I have applied myself to learn what I need, but it still isdistasteful, remaining nothing but hard work. But I’d rather build a missing wall than have the whole of the house come to ruin.