Engage

The Big Dig and Other Neighborhood Surprises

Once the tunnels are dug the men can begin to squeeze through them to start the insertion of 11 steel piers under our foundation. To raise the sinking middle of our house’s foundation they have to get the dirt out before they can begin the restoration process…

Once the tunnels are dug the men can begin to squeeze through them to start the insertion of 11 steel piers under our foundation. To raise the sinking middle of our house’s foundation they have to get the dirt out before they can begin the restoration process…

they have to dig deep in order to have enough space to insert the 11 steel piers; they have to be willing to subject themselves to serious manual labor and discomfort digging shovel, by shovel to finally break through to create a tunnel space.

At one point I watched out our living room window – shovel after shovel after shovel of dirt being relayed by the man in the hole to the man who took the shovel who handed it to the man waiting to fill and push the wheelbarrow who dumped it out over the planks of wood covering our grass in our front yard. Over and over this process went on until by 5:00 P.M the dirt from under our house created quite a pile on the wooden planks.

This morning the truck pulled up and the whole process started over again. And at 5:00 P.M. the pile of dirt was higher. Tomorrow morning they will arrive at 8:00 and start again – digging, passing the shovel, loading the wheelbarrow, dumping it out…over and over and over.

The analogies within our foundation repair process to the house on the sand story in the Gospels are obvious. You mess with your foundation and you have a mess. Paul made it clear in I Corinthians 3 that, for a Christian, the only viable foundation is Jesus Christ.

We didn’t know we had a problem until the cracks in our walls started appearing in our house. Cracks… at one point it seemed a new one appeared everyday. They were the warning signals that alerted us. The cracks exposed a major problem; but, we cannot fix the cracks without dealing with the foundation first. Our foundation – while still in tact, was shifting badly and needed attention.

The engineer measurements gave an exact representation of what our house was supposed to look like. We could judge how far it had slipped. How like the transformation process the Lord invites us into – the spiritual formation process of being conformed to the image of Christ – the restoration of God’s image in us (II Corinthians 3:18;Romans 8:29). Christ is our pattern and in the sovereignty of God He is also, through the Holy Spirit, our Restorer.

He is a gentle but caring Shepherd exposing the cracks to alert us to the areas that need His attention. Growing closer to Him exposes my sin – my false self – the part of my life I try to manage without Him – the cracks. The disruptions in my soul speak to the cracks. The disharmony in relationships speaks to the cracks. The fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the desire to have my own way speaks to the cracks.

It’s in this crack exposure that we become aware of our need for restoration. If you are noticing cracks in your own spiritual foundation, embrace them as signals from your loving, gentle shepherd. Pay attention to His invitation to enter into or continue in the restoration process. Let Him get the dirt out. Let Him dig deep into your soul. Be willing to do some serious “manual” labor and endurance of discomfort for the glorious benefit of becoming more like Christ. Create some space for Him to enter and be Present.

And in this process He may give you a respite of surprise in the midst of your restoration.

Last night, as my husband and I walked outside to survey the dig of yesterday… we looked up and to our surprise were greeted by a pair of mallard ducks strolling down our sidewalk as if this were a normal thing to do on a spring evening in the middle of suburbia – two of God’s creatures! Who knows the real reason they were there. I took it as a gift from God to us at that moment – a gift of His Presence just to enjoy while we wait for the next dig.

 

Gail Seidel

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.