It’s Saturday morning and I am at my favorite summertime spot, the balcony on the second floor of our 105 year old house. Coffee is at my side, the blue jays are regularly coming to grab the peanuts I’ve left for them, and my computer is perched on my lap. It’s only 8 am but already the sun is hinting at the 30 degree temperature it’s going to be in just a few hours. I am pondering the week’s events, sifting through the many blessings of the week, wondering how to narrow it down for another blogpost. I’ve seen God in so many people and events.
Habitat for Humanity – This week I did the first few days of my annual volunteering stint at Habitat. The weather has been really hot. At the beginning of each day, I dread leaving my comfort zone but the feeling of being hot and sticky becomes irrelevant when once again, I am energized by the vision and people of this great organization. One of my favorite quotations embodies what they’re all about:
A task without a vision is a dream.
A vision without a task is a drudgery.
A task and a vision is the hope of the world.
I began working with Habitat 5 summers ago when my boredom with too much time off in July and
August led my friends to suggest I try volunteering with Habitat. I signed up but with almost no expertise in the trades, I was nervous and unsure of how things would go. I think God was looking out for me because Habitat placed me with the best crew. They were a Winnipeg church group and had the best camaraderie among each other. Joking around and an openness to patiently explaining each task to newbies like me was the order of the day and I soon felt right at home. I learned that building a house is not rocket science – it’s just many small tasks put together bit by bit. Best of all, they were tasks that I could do.
Over and over through the years, I find that there are many people like this – people who make each other feel welcome and at ease as we go about Habitat’s vision of creating a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.
One of the things I love is talking to people while our hands are gainfully employed. My favorite question is “What led you to Habitat?” Again and again, I hear of people who want to give their lives to “something more”. One woman said she volunteers every year to honor the memory of a friend who died of cancer. Many retired people want to have something to still give their time and energy to. Inmates from a local prison come as part of a government program to give them a trade to replace their former lifestyle.
As I ponder how I see God in Habitat, I’ve been thinking of how a vision can transform people. I really believe that it is human nature to be pretty consumed with ourselves. I am one of the worst at this. Insecurities and a constricted world view can lead a person to develop a “me first” mentality. It’s so easy to ride on waves of cynicism and doubt… until you realize how much unhappiness it creates. Because of God giving me a rich faith community, I am being healed of this. One of my favorite verses says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you might know the will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
Transformation. When I walk around the Habitat build site, this is what I see in people. Whether people know it or not, we are all being healed of the constricted world views by giving ourselves to something bigger. I like to say that Habitat brings out the best in people. Jesus called this the Kingdom of God. So often we think that comfort and “what-I-want-when-I-want-it” will be the ticket to happiness, but Jesus told us that seeking God’s kingdom first is the way to go, “and all these things will be added to you.”
There’s a song I’ve been pondering lately called “The String That Ties Us”, by Beautiful Eulogy. It is basically an inspiring sermon set to music and uses the analogy of a kite. If a kite could feel, it would feel the exhilaration of flying, as well as the annoyance of the string that tethers it to earth, supposedly limiting its freedom. Without the string, however, the kite would soon be adrift and in tatters. This string is love.
Habitat for Humanity is one of those kite strings, connecting me to something more than my own ego. The vision that so many carefully nourish is a gift, and this week I have been grateful to God for this place which is a window into the kingdom.
Please listen to the song here. Beautiful Eulogy’s amazing album is also a free download.