Here is the finished product.....our "Iglesia de Dios" in the heart of southern Guayaquil.
When I first posted the "before" picture of the church construction site at the first of the week, most if not all our time naively hoped that we could finish before we left Ecuador. The objective was to have the entire building done with no more work required. But as Josh and I sat on the street curb eating our sandwich for lunch on Wednesday, we talked about how we obviously wouldn't get "done".
But we also talked about how "being done" was never really the goal. The goal was simply to get as much of the work done that we could and let the completion work itself out.
Even then it struck me that our Christian lives SHOULD be that way, but maybe over time we have come to see it differently. Let me explain.
It seems to me that often times we demonstrate roughly three phases of Christianity: the first where we are ready and willing to work for God, the second where we are actively seeking to sacrifice, serve, and do God's work, and a third where we kind of think we have done our part and are somewhat "finished". And the phases seem to me to be independent of age or longevity as a Christian but may be dependent more on how effective we are being as Christians. The more work we are doing for God, the more the enemy will work against us. And the attacks of the enemy are usually far more subtle than we expect. He absolutely uses addiction or moral failure or other frontal assaults, but I believe the majority of his attacks just use our own weight against us.
If we are busily involved with our children's endeavors, he will tempt us to embrace that we are too busy to volunteer or work at or through the church. If we don't see our family much due to travel or other obligations, he will tempt us to embrace that we need time for our families first. If we have an issue with someone in the church or with something about the church, he will tempt us to focus on seeing it resolved before extending ourselves any further. If we are challenged financially, he will convince us that we must see to it that our families' needs are met before giving to God.
The enemy doesn't come straight at us like a boxer. Like a sumo wrestler, he uses our own weight of commitment to our families, commitment to our jobs, commitment to our finances, and commitment to our own sense of rightness in the church against us and against God. He takes what is precious to us and uses it to make us work against our savior.
But the enemy is a liar. More, he is the father of lies and the truth is never in him.
But the truth is in the Word, and it told us to "be His witnesses....to the ends of the earth". That commission is as valid for you and I the last breath we take as it was the first breath we took as a believer. Just like we were never intended to "finish" our work on this humble house of worship in Guayaquil, we are never intended to finish our work for Jesus until He calls us to our eternal home.