I saw them all over Japan, especially at Camp Zama. Screens were going up everywhere around buildings. Those who live outside of Japan won’t understand what I’m saying, so let me explain. When Japanese workers embark on a building or renovation project, they screen-off the place from everyone’s sight. Huge screens are hung on giant scaffolds all around a building.
Why do they do this? Well, first, there are safety concerns. The screens keep falling debris and shooting sandblasters from injuring people.
But there’s another reason for the screens. It’s also because “works in progress” tend to be ugly affairs. No one wants to see the bare bones of an unfinished apartment complex or an office building that’s being gutted for renovation. So, before ground is broken or renovation begins on an existing structure, a large screen is set up all around the construction site. And only after the job’s done is the finished product unveiled.
I’ve often wished that God would do that in our lives—screen us off from everyone’s view until He’s finished working with us. That way I’d embarrass Him less. That way my “mess ups” wouldn’t be so visible.
The problem, however, is that I’ll always be “a work in progress” and God is not going to wait for my perfection before He moves me from behind the screen and chooses to use me in His service. Yes, this means that I will make mistakes along the way. It means that I may hurt people while I’m trying to help them. It means I will grieve over stupid things I do and say. But, like it or not, God puts us in circulation while we’re still under construction.
Have you ever seen the TV commercial about “Building a Plane in the Air.” It begins with a factory worker saying, “Some people like to climb mountains. I like to build planes—in the air!” It’s hilarious, as the airplane construction crew rivet sheet metal to the wings and fuselage. The crew does so as the plane soars 30,000 feet and hundreds of miles-per-hour. Business-class passengers try to write memorandums only to have their papers fly back and hit others in the face. The commercial has a spiritual parallel because that’s what God does. He puts us to use before He’s finished building and fixing us. He puts us in flight before our wings are complete. And He uses us as vessels though we still have cracks that leak.
Therefore, it behooves us first, to cooperate with God as He seeks to correct our problems. Second, we should not wait for spiritual maturity before we involve ourselves in the Lord’s work. We need to get busy in the Lord’s business—for Christian service is one of the mediums through which God develops us. And, third, we should be encouraged and not grieve too deeply over our mistakes.
None of us are “finished products.” We are all “works in progress.” God understands this and He does not consider our failures as a derailment of His plan. “Being confident of this,” wrote Paul the apostle, “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
Dear Father in heaven, sometimes I yearn for the safety of the shop, where I would be less a danger to myself and others, where my unfinished form and flaws would be hidden from view, until I come forth as “the finished product.” But You have chosen to build me in flight and perfect me through serving. Please, dear Lord, grant that I will help far more than I hurt and honor Your name rather than embarrass You. Amen.