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Halfway House

Imagine an architectural undertaking of grand proportions. Vast arrays of room after room, and seemingly endless passageways wind on and on. Dust hangs in the air with the busyness of construction and activity. Hammers pound, shovels scrape, and ropes groan under the burden of change. Layer by layer the structure begins to take form, with painstaking attention given to each blueprinted detail. The first several weeks are a blur; the next few months a flurry of motion.

Subtly, the pace alters ever so slightly. At first, it seems, it's just one hammer swing that's out of sync. The rhythm of the builders loses a little of its efficacy, but is still humming along. The edifice is taking shape now, and the purposes of various spaces can be speculated. Growth in size appears to be exacting its cost from the labor, however, as things continue to gently slow. Ebbing strength dictates more asynchronous behavior and development becomes sporadic. Eventually, all movement grinds to a halt, casting an almost deathly pallor over the once-aggressive project.

With the decrease in structural work, there is a hidden enemy. Mutinous pacts are made in the camp and mutterings of conflict simmer like a sulfuric stew. Murmurs grow in frequency, peppered by shouts of unrest. A masked attack is launched under cover of night and panic strikes. Fire engulfs a large portion of the partly-finished building and the clamor of chaos rises to deafening levels. Civil war rages and within days the structure is all but completely abandoned. Can you imagine?

Many of today's congregants operate stiffly around forgotten dusty complexes, wondering why the "christian life" they were sold seems hollow. I, too, have been part of this group, and struggle to surface for air from the quagmire. Those church members that become aware of the problem often reach for a rag and some cleaning solvent to polish their knee-high brick walls. I am embarrassed to admit that this group still welcomes me in occasionally during times of fear.

When I choose a "stopping point" in my trust journey with my God, I choose to allow the building to slow to a painful crawl in my heart. It's not that it's about me or my effort; quite the opposite. The foundation of previous experiences of the grace of the Lord allow me to trust for Him to continue construction. Sure, there will be outbreaks of war against the flesh from time to time. But those are opportunities for me to reflect on the work that's already been accomplished for me. I can recall the foundation that was laid by Christ, and I can even learn more about the engineering going on in others' hearts.

God's design is for the growth to be rooted in love, producing joy. When I opt to break out the rock polish or forget about Truth in favor of works, I experience what I would call "painful sanctification". My Savior will have my allegiance at any cost, and He is willing to woo me with suffering to help me admit my dependence upon Him. He is glorified by me being honest about this need in the context of community, as honesty breeds honesty.

I guess that must be why it's called "edification".


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