“I’m Building a Cathedral”

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This title is a reference to one of my favorite illustrations I have shared on my blog before. Briefly, two men were digging a ditch; the first was grousing, complaining and mumbling while periodically glancing at his watch; the second was smiling, singing and rejoicing while he dug. A passer-by asked them what they were doing. The first one answered, disgust in his voice: “I’m just digging a damn ditch!” The second one looked up, and with joy and confidence he answered: “I’m building a cathedral!”

In light of God’s purpose for women to be helpers for their husbands in their task of ruling over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25), this is a very appropriate example. Many see homemaking as no different than “digging a ditch,” rather than an exciting, fulfilling, indispensable mission. The third aspect to man’s purpose—after “bearing God’s image” (by experiencing the gospel of grace) and “ruling over the earth” (through the  biblical functioning of family, church and civil government)—is to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

 This is impossible without natural-born women, who all have XX chromosomes. This is why woman was given to man (who all have XY chromosomes), as his “helper:” ”And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’”  God created men and women uniquely and gloriously different, and both sexes are absolutely necessary for God to “fill the earth” in order to fulfill his Eternal Purpose of ruling over it, through us!

Most Christians don’t realize that what experiences a child has during the early years of its life lay a foundation for participation in this divine plan—either predominantly security and confidence, thus facilitating participation, or insecurity and fear, which will hinder it. Those formative years are incredibly crucial. A mother who is caring for her child 24 hours per day, and does not farm him out to day-care workers and baby-sitters in order to work outside the home, gives him a start to his life that is impossible to duplicate any other way.

It is only a full-time homemaker who can lay that foundation. Only parents who have ultimate responsibility before God for that child, as do the mother and father, can recognize and welcome that overwhelming but joyous and fulfilling burden. When they do, the result is unbelievably positive, saving that child from having to unload immense emotional baggage later in life as he enters the calling God has for him.

 As my wife Jill has perceptively asked, “Why in the world did God give parenting to 20-year-olds?” The answer to that question is, “Because God is in no hurry.” To Him, “one day is as a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8). He ordains all our parenting screw-ups in order to ultimately, often after many years, make us face our own sin and utter selfishness. That very sin against our children will also drive them to learn to trust God in damaging adversity, and to forgive us parents and release their bitterness toward us. Thus, our very sin against our children and their sin against us is a part of God’s inscrutable plan to rule the world through us wicked sinners!

Hallelujah! What a plan! God is playing Satan like a fiddle, using his lies, deceit and trickery to ultimately finalize his defeat at the cross. Winning this overarching battle between God and His rebellious angel is our ultimate task. It underlies everything in which we are involved, and God says, in the end, we will be victorious.

Satan was defeated definitively at the cross, but he’s still fighting a guerrilla action on the earth. He is like a dope dealer, stealthily debilitating us as warriors by spreading addiction to the fruit from the fatal Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The desire to be “good” (born in us at the Fall) is a drug that has gripped the human race since that time, but at the cross that way of life was over. There God pronounced all mankind to be “good” with the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. Case closed. God says it’s true. Believe it (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our continued addiction is only because we are deceived.

When the sword of the Word of God is being wielded, and this “faith-alone” gospel edge, and the “hold-us-until-faith-comes” kingdom edge of that sword are both sharp, what will that look like?  

It will look like this—We will be living in continual repentance for our ever-present sin. “Thy Kingdom come on the earth” happens through our lives only when we are embracing that sin and rejoicing that it is totally forgiven. We will have rejected the impossible addiction of “trying to be good.” When this is true more and more consistently, the Holy Spirit will produce the Kingdom of God through us (Galatians 2:20) naturally (living just as we always do – nothing phony), spontaneously (unplanned), and unconsciously (We won’t realize anything special is happening). 

In the family, the father will “rule his own house well” (1 Timothy 3:4): with LOVE for his wife that is agape love that “does not take into account a wrong suffered”: (1 Corinthians 13:5 AMP), and he will LEAD her with strong, firm decision-making. Wives, in turn, will SUBMIT themselves to their husbands “as unto the Lord…in all things” (Ephesians 5:22, 24). As the object of this love and leadership, she will find herself eager to do so!

As they train their children under the father’s leadership, they will do so with both firmness (never harshness) and compassion (never leniency). The biblical standard of conduct is never compromised, but all that comes from a parent’s mouth is always encouraging and uplifting, never negative or angry, even while biblical, corporal punishment is being firmly applied!

When problems arise, as they surely will, both husband and wife have learned to first look at themselves when blame is assigned. At this point, the unmistakable sign of a kingdom family is when the inevitable argument that occurs involves each partner fighting to claim responsibility for the screw-up (“It’s my fault!” “No, it’s my fault!”). Watching this real-life lesson on transparency and repentance will be more effective for the watching children than all the intellectual lessons on these topics that a parent could possibly devise. Parents who live truth don’t have to verbalize it to effectively teach it!

You are building a cathedral in your family. It’s never too late. Cathedral-building is God’s family business, and we are all builders in His family.

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  1. Sally says:

    Excellent article. Learning these principles early in marriage helped our four kids learn to follow the Lord. Now raising their own its fun to watch what their kids pick up on saying sorry, asking forgiveness (harder) and living in peace. The cathedral takes a lifetime to build.

  2. Jerry Buccola says:

    Wow Robert, I had not thought of applying the anecdote of building a cathedral to our child training! I will pass this on to my 3 daughters who have 2 children each, so far. Thank you!

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