My Dad, before he retired, was a Civil Engineer. If ever there was a major road development scheme or bridge-building project (a literal one) in Torbay where we used to live, he would most likely be on site making sure everything was going to plan.
If he was working in Twickenham now he’d have no shortage of work because roadworks and improvement schemes are constant here! Since Mairi and I moved here last year, there has been one major project happening after another and its been pretty annoying and inconvenient, to be honest. We even had the pavement directly outside our front door being dug up the day of the With Us recording. (Thank you Jesus that it finished in time).
All these inconvenient and noisy disruptions to the normal flow of traffic and pedestrian access has got me thinking. It strikes me that, because of all the metal railings, ‘road closed’ signs, temporary traffic lights, deafening digging and holes in the ground, we are living in the middle of a road-work scene that has become a prophetic picture for us of our current spiritual formation. Mairi and I feel like a road under construction, something like the promise of restoration in Jeremiah 33.
God Is Up To Something
‘God is always moving behind the scenes and He’s always moving the scenes He’s behind”
God is absolutely engineering away behind the scenes in our lives to make us holy (where no-one else can see) but He’s also, some of the time, actually moving the scenes He’s behind – God is changing the landscape of our internal world and it’s a renovation called sanctification.
> Does life seem messy at the minute to you? Noisy or chaotic, even?
> Do your current surroundings seem uncomfortable?
> Do you feel like God is speaking to you relentlessly about the same thing?
> Do you catch glimpses of improvement only to be disoriented again?
God will be working in you in ways that you simply can’t imagine – unique and bespoke. He knows everything about You – uniquely. But while the contours of your life are one-of-a-kind, there is one area of sanctification that you and I can be assured He will be interested in: the road-work sanctification of your prayer life.
Two helpful verses that I’m aware of being at the bedrock of this spiritual improvement scheme:
1) In Psalm 51 (one passage of Scripture most-smudged by my finger-prints) King David shows one of the secrets of His black and blue heart, sanctified by fire and grace: an appetite for truthfulness, sincerity and honesty.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. (v6)
Here are some of the finishing touches of the renovation of David’s heart as he comes nearer to full-circle from the roof-top over-looking Bathsheba’s bathroom to the knee-worn, tear-soaked prayer room of his repentance. God has been moving behind the scenes of David’s life and moving the scenes He’s behind. David was becoming more prayerful as God sanctified his heart.
2) In John’s epistle, (another letter in Scripture most-smudged by my finger-prints) the Apostle John links this appetite for truthfulness with an anointing for abiding prayer:
But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (2:27)
It needs the anointing of the Holy Spirit to grow in this old-school term ‘abiding’…waiting, lingering prayer. I think a life that is being prepared for greater abiding will often look like a road-improvement scene. These renovations of the heart, (that Dallas Willard beautifully writes about), whose Architect is the Holy Spirit, are like the messy, annoying, sometimes painful roadworks that we’re surrounded by in Twickenham at the moment:
1) God desires that our hearts are sincere, pure and truth-loving (Psalm 51:6)
2) He desires that we desire to love Him more and pray as we should (1 John 2:27 cf. John 15)
We Should Be Encouraged
As we see the mess that sometimes seems so prevalent, let’s be thankful that it proves that Someone is working in us to form the very nature of Jesus in our fragile worlds
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Exposing this old-school word (abiding) a bit more will be the plan for the next few weeks.
> How are you getting on?
> Where are our prayers leading us?