I had a dream about France last night. We were on a long layover there and decided to visit some friends. They had remodeled their home to pristine perfection, though it had been (and still was) a rental home. I’m sure there was more to the dream, but the image of their “new” home stood out to me.
I’m left today with the emotional aftermath. Can I rejoice in the success of a work we left behind? In my dream, I rejoiced. But as I type this, I feel sad. We were not a part of the remodeling process, the seeing of a thing move from disarray to beauty.
No, we laid a foundation—all that unglamorous work pouring cement, laying re-bar, dirtying our hands and sweating. The foundation is nothing I could point to in support letters and say, “Hey, look what we built!” But it was laid nonetheless.
I will rest with cement on my hands. God calls some to plant seeds, others to water, others to harvest. We were none of those, really. We were the ones called in to evaluate the grow-ability of the soil. We plowed, augmented, assessed. We found what minerals were lacking, and we sought to rid the soil of noxious chemicals. That’s all. Soil conditioning and foundation creating.
Not much glory in that, but important. To take both metaphors further:
All the remodeling and beauty of the house would mean nothing if the foundation was poorly poured. Soon cracks and fissures would mar the lovely new walls. And eventually, as time wore on, the walls would separate, and there is a strong possibility the house would shift and become unsafe.
This year I had a garden—a mildly successful garden. But I did not do one vital thing. I did not spend a lot of time amending the soil. In my haste, I dug through the soil, not paying attention to its viability. The result was lackluster results. Next winter, I’ll be spending time at the depths of the soil, adding organic matter, worms, compost. Because a great garden flows from great soil.
I’m not being magnanimous here. I’m not saying we did all these amazing things in France that no one is seeing. I’m simply understanding, through God’s grace and insight, that we did the backbreaking work of foundation building and soil preparation. Somehow that’s comforting to me, though I can’t really say why. Just that it is. And for today, in the aftermath of a strange dream, that’s enough.