Spiritual Reflections

Summer is always road construction season in Minnesota. I grew up with a dad who was a foreman in road construction. My brothers both work for the same company. We have, all of our lives, lived the intensity of the season of road construction. As my dad reminded us often, “It’s where your bread is buttered!”

Fast-forward to the 2019 road construction season happening right out in front of the church I serve, Glendale United Methodist Church. It probably affects your route somewhere, too. I had forgotten how extensive road construction is until I saw it happening out my office window every day.

They don’t just simply lay a coat of new asphalt on a road and call it done. They are completely reconfiguring and reconstructing Glendale Road, which means that they are pulling up the old pavement, rebuilding the foundation underneath and putting on a new, solid, reconfigured surface. It’s a process.

This process reminds me of what it is like to invite God into our lives. We are not inviting God to come in and do a simple seal-coating. God doesn’t want to put a new surface on the old us. God intends nothing short of an entire construction process. God intends a total reconstruction of our lives, a reorientation of the way we live, so that Jesus Christ can take up residence in our lives.

Long before the construction vehicles appeared in front of our church, the work had already begun. Plans were drawn up. People were lined up to do the work. Detour signs were erected to direct traffic. There is a bunch of work that happens before the physical construction begins.

So it is with God in our lives. Long before we have taken the brave step to ask God to work in our lives, God is making plans, lining people and situations up and directing traffic. In the church we call this prevenient grace — the work of God in our lives before we know or ask for it. It is grace because it shows God’s love for us no matter how far off we think we are. It is grace because God works in our lives even when we don’t deserve it. It is grace because it demonstrates God’s unfailing love for us from before our first breath.

Once we have asked God into our lives, the construction begins. We are called to partner in that process. There are habits we take on that open up space for God. Traditional habits like prayer, worship, study and fasting, as well as other habits like mediation, generosity, hospitality, serving others or healing touch, are ways of inviting the power of the Holy Spirit into us. We invite the Holy Spirit to reshape the way we think, act and live until we resemble more and more of the ways of Jesus.

That’s what it means to follow Jesus. We are being reconstructed to mirror the values, priorities and actions of Jesus: to care for the poor and the oppressed, to heal and make whole, to welcome others in ways the world does not.

What will you do this summer during construction season? I’m not asking about what routes you will take to avoid the roads that are torn up or undergoing repair. I’m asking if you will invite God into your life to reshape and reconfigure how you are in the world. Will you invite God into your life to renovate it? How will you make space for the radical reconstruction of you? Whether you are a long-time follower of Jesus or don’t know what it means to follow him, invite God into your life for a summer of reconstruction and see what God might do in and through you.

Blessings on your construction season!

Becky Jo Messenbrink is the lead pastor at Glendale United Methodist Church in Savage. She is one of several area people who write for “Spiritual Reflections,” a weekly column appearing in this newspaper.

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