I went to bed last night sure of what I would write about today. I started a draft in the evening and ended the night scribbling a jot list of notes into a notepad before dozing off to sleep. I was ready. I had a plan.
I forgot that.
I remember going to Universal Studios with my family as a kid. I remember driving down streets on film lots full of houses that looked so perfect and real. But they were facades only (that’s when I first ever learned the word “façade”). As wide and tall as they were with their well-painted veneers, they were one-dimensional structures made to merely look like houses. I never knew of such a thing. They were amazing, so convincing to look at. Not only that, but they were easily put up and even more easily taken down.
It’s got me thinking.
I can brainstorm and come up with good ideas. I can draft and make jot lists with the best of them. I can think it through to the –nth degree, look at all the angles. I can even whip it up into a handy multimedia presentation fully loaded with animations and transitions or into a graphic with layers that end in a high-resolution image. I can build a pretty convincing façade; one that even convinces me for a while.
But no matter the façade of all these well-thought out plans I have – plans for organizing, plans for simplifying, plans for blogging, etc. – no matter if they look really good turned into charts and diagrams and synced calendars that chime at the appointed times, if they lack an infrastructure with substance they’re no more sound than empty structures on some back lot. They’re no more solid than paper mache affixed to an inflated balloon; nothing more than collapsible and crushable things.
I planned to write something different today.
I should remember that.
I wanted to write about external things: a goal set, a system followed, a task accomplished. But then I remembered a shift is happening.
[Am I planting grass or building houses? My analogies have run amuck.]
I’m reading through a book called Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. I’m not just reading through it, but really studying it and finding so much of where I am in my life right now to be directly impacted by it. Read it. I mean, just do. Within its pages the author refers to the private world as being the internals of spiritual life. So often we build structures all around – sometimes really good ones – but find ourselves imploding from the neglect of our spirit. This morning I reread this statement from the book: “If my private world is in order, it will be because I am convinced that the inner world of the spiritual must govern the outer world of activity.” That right there. That’s a plan-changer.
It’s easy to talk about the outer world. That’s the one everyone sees. But if I had stepped any further into this process and not made the declaration that this whole thing for me has to come from the outflow of my private world, do you know what that would’ve created? A façade.
I have held a deep and abiding belief in and love for Jesus for a very long time. However, MacDonald said better than I could have what I have too often felt: “Because I have lived in the context of the Christian gospel my entire life, Jesus Christ has never been a stranger to me. That does not mean, however, that I have always understood His lordship. Even though I have usually followed him, I have too often followed from afar.” I know Jesus. I could sit for hours and talk about the ways he’s changed my life. But there’s a lot more of this life of mine that I’ve withheld from him and I don’t like that.
So these days I’m building from the inside out. I’ve been waking up everyday and after a small get-up-and-get-going routine, I am beginning with time spent reading the Bible and praying; in the dark on the front porch, as a matter of fact. And then I’m trying to walk with intention through my day in a dialogue with Jesus, even as I walk through the structures of schedules and calendars, organizing and simplifying, and making plans to fulfill dreams. I am – finally – “convinced that the inner world of the spiritual must govern the outer world of activity.”
Early this morning a verse rolled across the marquee of my mind. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” I’ve built, and dreamt of building more. And too often I’ve rejected that very “stone”. But I’d rather try it with him as the cornerstone. I want order in the externals of this life – in my home, as wife and mom, in relationships with my friends, in health, in my management of time – but I need it to come from a more reliable Source than myself. I’d rather be full of all kinds of dimensions that only a well-ordered private world that hinges on Jesus can create than any simple façade.
I should remember that.
Like a mantra or a meditation, all throughout this process.
"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." - Proverbs