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Following Which Design Plan?

Part of my wing of the chemistry building is nearing the completion of a year-long renovation project. As my teaching lab is moving to the ‘new’ space, I gave the architects detailed plans for how I wanted the space built out, to scale, using industry standard design software, and gave them both hard and electronic copies of the design. You know where this is heading.

While the basic design features have largely survived, in the three or four years since submitting the plans, I have watched them ‘evolve,’ almost by magic, with many of my protests falling on deaf ears. Utilities are added that I don’t want, and ones I do are taken away. Built in components are moved around from where I placed them. How things are actually constructed makes no apparent sense in placement, style, or utility. Space is wasted, walled off beyond reach. The hallways have half the brightness they did before, so that you feel like you are in Area 51 or something. The designers are so thrilled with their own ideas they design and have installed hallway floor tiles in the school colors of one of our biggest rivals—the week after we get blown out by them.

In many cases, there are actually fairly good reasons for the changes, but it would have been very nice if they had come to the final user (me, in this case) and said, “Look mate, what you want isn’t going to work for these reasons. Here’s how we propose to change it.” Then, I can see if I see a different solution and we can find a mutually acceptable workaround. I can explain why I want something that way and that can help them figure out another way to accomplish the goal. We can catch mistakes more easily this way. And so on.

The point is the end user, the client, the customer is the one who must live with the final result after everyone is paid for their work and goes away. Therefore, it seems like it is of critical importance to keep in touch with them, listen to their wishes, plans, needs, instructions, offer suggestions, but then ultimately give the client the end product they want and hired you to bring them.

This is not merely some rant. The real problem is that all too often we follow our Lord the way the contractors follow our plans. In general we agree that the Great Commission is a “good idea;” that calling Christ “Lord” implies some sort of hierarchical structure; that we will get a reward at the end; and not to mention the ability to go and ask for more resources when we seem to run short.

But do we listen to His directions, or do we try to find a hybrid where we incorporate His instructions as they fit in with our own plans for our lives, and, if not, it is our life anyway? Do we forget that He didn’t merely hire us?—He bought us because we were out of options, because we had failed at living the life we had been created for.

He bought us, then as a bonus, He invites us to participate in His Design, to assist in putting the final touches on Creation and Redemption. He could just call us to Heaven when we turn to Him, but He has things for us to do here to further His work. And yet, like some narcissistic interior designer we try to have Him build our reputation at the expense of His design by living for ourselves and expecting Him to bless it, especially if we deign to include some tidbit that looks like we are following Him, as a bribe, trying to convince Him that our plan is really His…or close enough. He’ll like our ideas better when we’re all done. Trust us.

Yeah, right. If that is the case, then why did we need the whole salvation thing to begin with?

Praise be to God that His design will be accomplished through us and even through our selfishness. Praise that He is patient with us and keeps working with us, rather than firing us and getting someone who will pay attention.

It is said, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” God says, in Christ, “It will be done right, and we will have a relationship through and because of it.”


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