If you’ve lived anywhere near Atlanta, you know that we always have some road construction going on around the city. I have lived in Cherokee County for more than 35 years, and I can’t remember a time when one of our highways was not under construction.
When Ruth Graham died in 2007, she left behind instructions for these words to be on her gravestone: “End of construction: Thank you for your patience.” When you visit the nearby Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, and walk over to the place where her body is buried, you will see most folks read those words and smile. It’s an interesting experience just to walk around a cemetery to see what the grave markers say.
Have you thought about your life as a construction project? When you are younger, you feel you have lots of time to finish the job and stay busy about other things. When you get a little older, you think about making a will, what you will leave to your children and perhaps grandchildren. A little later when it seems the years are flying by, you may ask yourself: how am I doing on this life I’m living?
When life comes close to the end, few people say “I wish I had worked harder at my job.” Many will say, “I wish I had spent more time with my family.” But there is an internal construction process too that needs to be examined. Jesus put it succinctly in the question, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?” It’s a penetrating question!
When people ask me what it takes to be converted, I usually include four essential spiritual moments. The first is conviction. It’s a theological word that explains recognizing my failures or sinfulness. No one seeks a Savior unless he comes to the place where he knows he needs one.
The second word is repentance. Simply put, that means to be sorry for the ways I’ve failed. Again, Jesus illustrated with the man whose prayer was brief put pointed, “God be merciful, to me a sinner.”
The third concept is starting over, reversing course — when I recognize that I need to move in a new direction, find help, or ask God for help.
And the final word is becoming whole! I can discover the need for change, remodeling, being under construction in the inner sense of the soul.
One of the simplest invitations Jesus gave was, “Come to Me…and I will give you rest.” Put your hammers and saws down; the project is finished!
Few of us have been that wise, but Ruth Graham chose the right words: “End of construction: Thank you for your patience.” I would like to think the Father said: “Welcome home, good and faithful daughter.”