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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

Upgrading My House of Straw

The past few days I've been reflecting on what we're trying to build here. You see, long before we packed our bags to leave, years before we sold our house in Seattle, Eddie and I felt a strong call to return to Belize.

From having lived here (short-term) previously, we had a strong sense of the needs here. Over months and years, we researched the culture, economy, development statistics, and then formulated (what I felt) was a killer plan.

I created PowerPoint presentations that showed why we were the right people to make a difference in Belize. Our years of social work and community work, our multi-cultural and multilingual family- it all made so much sense! While we prayed, we got confirmation after confirmation of our call, but no specifics about what we would do here. So, we started to make a plan of our own, telling God He could redirect us at any time. What we didn't expect was for that redirection to hit a month before we were scheduled to leave. What had taken us a long time to painstakingly create was wiped out in a single blow.

What had seemed so solid was no more than a house or cards...or straw.

In the story of the Three Little Pigs, the first little pig used what was easy and on-hand to build something quick, but that couldn't withstand even the slightest test. Once it was over, I realized that what I had built up in my mind and heart was just as flimsy as that house of straw.

So, stepping over the ruins of our first dream, we boarded the plane determined to only build what God instructed us to build.

Fast forward several months and a new plan starts to formulate that just makes sense. With all the multinational NGOs in Belize, it just makes sense that I would pursue a job with one of them. I can do community development work while Eddie does whatever ministry He is called to do. Why hadn't I thought of this earlier!?

I guess I fancy myself the architect of our family's life. It wasn't until this week that I saw this new idea for what it was: another way for me build something in my own strength. Like the second little pig's house of wood, this plan would require more time, more effort and offer more security than the house of straw. But I was kidding myself if I thought I could direct my life, and that of my family, better than God can.

Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain."

There's a reason God's plans take time. Whatever He builds are built to last. They are built to shelter us, protect us and withstand the storms of life.

Matthew 7: 24-25 says, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock."

So, rather than waiting for the Big Bad Wolf to come and obliterate my wooden house, I am voluntarily walking away from it. If God wants the NGO job idea to happen, it will. But instead of wracking my brain to figure out how all of this is gonna work-out, I'm going to "hear His words and do them." If He builds the house, it will stand the test of time.

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