© 2019 Lynn Abbott
My husband and I enthusiastically tackle DIY projects. And over the years, we have saved a lot of money doing home projects ourselves instead of hiring someone else to complete those improvements.
We make a good team.
But periodically, our projects don’t work out the way we envision.
Maybe you can relate.
Indeed. Such has been the case with the garden located in the side yard, behind our driveway.
Oh, it is truly a beautiful space. No arguments ’bout that. However, its location can sometimes present unique challenges.
You see, our home sits below street level. Thus, a tremendous amount of run off rushes down our driveway and into the garden during the inevitable east coast, summer thunderstorms.
Swampy puddles tend to form. For this reason, my husband and I decided to tackle a DIY engineering project this past summer. Our goal? We aimed to redirect the water run-off with a drainage system.
Yup. You guessed it. Epic fail.
The water rushed down the hill and around our garden shed. Although we certainly redirected the drainage, we did not achieve our objective.
Unfortunately, our DIY attempt simply replaced our old concerns with new puddles and boggy spaces closer to the house.
Uh, huh. Some projects require expertise that your typical DIY-er does not possess. We were no exception.
Obviously, we were in over our heads.
Oh, sure… We worked hard.
However, our abilities fell short. Despite our American spirit of ingenuity and independence, we discovered that experts can often accomplish tasks with less expense and pain than we can.
I guess we learned the hard way: our engineering is only successful if we follow time-tested principles and wisdom.
We were in over our heads.
I suspect such stories are not uncommon among people. Our fiercely independent natures want to give a task our best shot.
What a lot of grief we could avoid if we were only to ask for help in the first place!
I guess that’s why I love the Old Testament so much; the saints of old struggled in much the same way I do.
As I studied the book of Deuteronomy recently, I read God’s commands for Israel’s life in the Promised Land. God gave detailed principles for daily personal life, worship and government to His people.
But what caught my attention were the commands that anticipated His people’s demanding second best. You see, God intended to directly lead His people and promised to speak to His people through a prophet like Moses,(Deuteronomy 18:14-20).
Yet, our omniscient Savior also knew that the day would come when His people would demand a human king.
My husband and I learned the hard way. Our work is only successful if we follow time-tested principles and wisdom.
They would wish to “DIY” their government. Understanding humanity’s sinful and rebellious nature, God thus made provision for their eventual demands in Deuteronomy 17.
God’s people were not to approach their government or choose their leader in a willy-nilly sort of way. You betcha. If you are going to tackle life, it is crucial to follow the directions of our Divine Creator.
As I think of my own failed DIY life-projects, I recall Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake for nothing.”
Unless the LORD builds the house…
Unfortunately, Israel’s kings often failed to follow God’s directions. And this proved true from the very outset.
Israel’s first king, Saul, was a populist choice. Tall, handsome and seemingly humble, Saul’s selection made human sense.
Yet, Saul did not base his reign on the counsel of God. Again and again, we read that he impatiently followed his own wisdom rather than waiting on God. He repeatedly disobeyed God’s commands.
Demonstrating a general lack of faith in God, Saul regularly acted upon his own understanding. On one occasion, rather than waiting for the prophet Samuel to arrive, Saul disobeyed God and arrogantly offered up the burnt offering before battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:8-10; 13).
Later, after victory in battle against the Amalekites, he failed to destroy the spoils as God had commanded him; instead, he allowed his men to loot the enemy’s camp. And rather than repent, Saul simply made excuses.
Yes, as we build our lives, it is vital to read the Manufacturer’s directions; to listen to the Master Builder, our Creator-God.
Samuel, God’s prophet, had to remind Saul that “to obey is better than sacrifice,” (1 Samuel 15:22).
But Saul’s life demonstrated a pattern of wilful disobedience and more closely aligned with the modern proverb, “Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”
God replies, “Not so.” He places parameters to insure our success.
Yet, again and again, Saul chose to ignore God’s principles. I can almost hear Saul singing with Sinatra, “I did it my way…”
Thus, just as God promised, when Saul’s reign closed, his son did not rise to the throne (1 Sam 15:28).
As a matter of fact, the house of Saul crumbled. The once popular leader spent the remainder of his reign mired in mud.
Saul persisted in following his own counsel rather than God’s time-tested principles.
God’s Word, in fact, gives a variety of commands that are designed to protect us from our propensity to stray from His wisdom and Truth.
If we will only heed His Word, its principles will yield success, (Joshua 1:8).
Fortunately for you and me, when we do stray, God has graciously provided for our restored relationship with Him through Christ’s work on the cross (1 John 1:9).
As did the Prodigal Son, we have only to acknowledge our rebellious self-direction and return home to our Heavenly Father.
Without our Creator’s expert guidance, you and I will likely find ourselves in a boggy mess.
The story of Israel’s DIY government would be the ultimate tragedy if it ended with Saul. However, Grace redeemed the heartbreak of Israel’s history. God is always faithful even though His people may wander, (2 Timothy 2:13).
And through the line of an imperfect but God-honoring shepherd boy, God not only provided for the redemption of His people but for all those who place their trust in Christ.
It is true that at times we all go astray (Isaiah 53: 6). Yet, through Christ, we may humbly return and walk with our God (1 John 1:9).
And once more, Abba guides and directs our lives–the engineering of our water works–and crowns us with success, (Psalm 103:1-5).
The Master Builder offers us His perfect blueprint: In His Word, we will discover his plan for ultimate success, (Joshua 1:8).
And when it really comes down to it, I would rather learn from the Master than stumble through life the hard way. Yes, experience has taught me that “doing it myself” frequently lands me in a muddy mess.
For this reason, I choose to follow Joshua’s example and boldly claim, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,” (Joshua 24:15b).
“‘Therefore, every one who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock,'” ~Matthew 7:24
“Those who love Thy law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble,” ~Psalm 119:165
Yes, I’m back… albeit only part-time. See explanation at conclusion of my immediately previous post, here. So delighted to “see” you again! Warmly, Lynn