Bricklaying teaches valuable lessons

QCS Religion Columnist: Leonard Lauriault

I’m an experienced bricklayer. Now, before anyone tries to contract me to a job, let me describe that experience. I attended high school in the eastern Kentucky coalfields where nearly every house was heated with — you guessed it — coal.

My neighbor put a coal furnace in his walk-out basement (the rest of us used fireplaces and pot-bellied stoves). In one corner of the basement, he replaced a window with a coal chute and asked me to build an indoor brick coalhouse.

While I was very green, my neighbor was an accomplished Jack-of-all-trades and, although wheelchair bound by a tree-trimming accident, he could lay the lower 3 or 4 rounds of even concrete block, with the best of ‘em. So, he got me started and went off to another project, like building stairs so his wife wouldn’t have to go outside to add coal to the furnace.

Things went along pretty well. My neighbor loaned me his 4-foot level to keep everything somewhat level and vertical. Well, at least the side of each layer of bricks was vertical, but I wasn’t using a plumb line to keep the wall vertical.

After working several days after school, I realized the wall was going to be well outside the ceiling joist my neighbor wanted it to be just inside of. I showed him the problem, but, the mortar on the previous days’ work was set.

My neighbor suggested that, since I had gradually gotten off track, I could gradually get back on track realigning the wall to the inside of the joist.

So, that’s what I did and when the job was done, most of us had coal piles outside, often covered with snow, from which we carried coal into the house to put in our pot-bellied stoves, while my neighbor had stairs in his basement where there was a pot-bellied brick coalhouse next to his furnace (Oooh!).

Our Christian lives are a lot like my brick laying experience.
God’s given us all the tools we need to attain the lofty goal he’s set (Philippians 3: 10-16; 2 Peter 1: 3, 4; 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17).

We begin with the foundation of Jesus and grow as we’re guided by the Holy Spirit through God’s word, which is to be our plumb line (Ephesians 2: 19-22; 1 Corinthians 2: 12-16; Amos 7: 7, 8; John 12: 47, 48).

Occasionally, we get out of plumb. So, God lovingly disciplines us to realign us to the lofty goal (Hebrews 12: 5-13).

Unlike my brick wall, when we respond to God’s love, we’re instantly realigned, and although the physical consequences of our earlier misalignment may still exist, God doesn’t see us as being pot-bellied (1 John 1: 5-9; Jeremiah 31: 31-34; 2 Samuel 12: 1-14; Psalm 51: 3).

We need to make progress in our battle against sin, still remembering that God has forgiven us and is ready to forgive us even when we repeatedly commit the same sin, if we repent (Matthew 18: 21, 22; Luke 17: 3, 4). Otherwise, we’ll forget that we can repent and seek forgiveness and lean too far from the lofty goal, eventually falling completely off our foundation (2 Peter 3: 5-11; 2: 20-22). We must pay attention to the indwelling Spirit so when we stand before God, we’ll be transformed to look just like Jesus (Hebrews 3: 7-14; Colossians 3: 5-10; 1 John 3: 1-3).

I’ll always know that I’ve built a pot-bellied wall (in my neighbor’s basement and in my life). The brick wall was brought back inside the joist and, although, not pretty to most, my neighbor’s wife was pleased with it.

I pray that God will be pleased with my life (Hebrews 11: 6). I know he will be if I diligently seek his forgiveness.
To my knowledge, the brick wall still stands after decades of having large chunks of coal tumbling through the chute against it.
When our lives are built on the foundation of Jesus, God’s word keeps us plumb and serves as mortar holding us together when life’s trials bash against us, including temptation by the sin that so easily entangles (Ephesians 4: 1-16; Hebrews 12: 1-3; 1 Corinthians 10: 13).

Christian, are you living according to the Spirit (Romans 8: 1-17)? He’s the only way we’ll get plumb to our lofty goal. If you’re out of plumb, repent and turn to God on his terms; he’ll take care of the rest (Acts 3: 19; 2 Corinthians 7: 10; Psalm 51: 7-12; 32: 1-7).

Are you a Christian? Getting “in Christ” is very simple (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Ephesians 1: 3-14; Acts 2: 38, 39). Call me if I can help (461-4421).

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ.