My desk at home faces the street. From my little perch I watch, day-by-day, with fascination as armies of workers scramble to finish building my neighborhood. In the year we’ve lived here, they’ve completed dozens of homes and have another dozen in various stages of near-completion. And the experts say that we’re in the midst of a housing bust. Not in my neighborhood.
Sitting here, avoiding the work that I desperately need to complete, I’ve been reminded this morning of one of life’s basic truths: it’s not how one looks but what’s on the inside that matters.
Across the street, in front of the cute little one-story that a young couple began their married life in, a swarm of worker bees poured the concrete for the driveway and sidewalk. The mechanics, the blend of human strength, motorized equipment, and wet concrete came together for a brief time one morning and visible progress was made. The concrete has been poured, the surface smoothed, and the lines drawn. On the surface, it’s a beautiful thing.
Underneath, however, things aren’t as they appear. Under those three or four inches of concrete there’s no reinforcement. The workers used no rebar. There’s no skeletal system there to provide the enduring strength for the long life that our new neighbors will hope to get out of that driveway.
Now I understand why our new homeowner’s materials counseled against parking a moving truck on our new driveway. It’s not just the concrete hasn’t had time to cure, to mature fully. The problem is there’s nothing underneath that smooth surface to keep the driveway from cracking under the pressure of what seems to be the common fate of all the driveways in this neighborhood must endure. The driveways look good. They’ll hold a few cars comfortably. But, woe to the owner who thinks that slab can handle the weight of the baggage of his life.
The similarity between that driveway across the street and Christians is great. Many new Christians look great. The clean up well. And, under normal circumstances, they can handle the basic day in and day out challenges thrown their way. But, when life throws them a curve, when things get really heavy, they crack under the pressure. Why? Because they don’t have the “rebar” they need. They lack the spiritual infrastructure to support them when troubles come.
Many “older” Christians struggle from the same weakness. The root issue is the same: no reinforcement. They’ve neglected to devote themselves to the Word of God. They’ve not put down spiritual roots in the nourishing soil of the Bible. Unlike new believers who’ve not had time to establish themselves on the teaching of Scripture, they simply chose to go the easier route, forgoing the costly process of meditating on spiritual truth.
Like the driveway across the street, or the one under my cars, Christians who overlook the study of the Word, who substitute spiritual shortcuts that look good on the surface for a lasting maturity that is more than skin deep, will one day find themselves under the weight of life’s great challenges and they’ll have nothing to lean upon. They’ll crack.
Make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Study your Bible. Meditate upon it. Memorize it. One day, if and when, life parks a U-Haul on your chest, you’ll be ready.
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About Peter Beck
Peter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
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