I have been involved with the process of building the new Lopburi Learning Center for the Thai ﬁeld over the past two and a half years. In April, three months into the contract it was disappointing to encounter a mistake in the construction of some of the cantilever beams. In order to strengthen the beams, our engineer said that the concrete would have to be hacked away and steel added and the concrete re-poured. This seemed to us to be a very demoralising thing for the workers to have to do, and then even after the repair the beams may not be as strong as they should have been. It was particularly important that these beams were strong as we were planning to put planting troughs on them in order to grow plants around the building to shade it. Creativity then set in and we looked for alternative solutions that would avoid the work having to be undone and re-done. How could we continue to move forward, rather than going over the same ground again? We came up with a new idea – why not put the planters on the next level up and have the plants growing down as well as up? We got very excited by this because we could actually see the design being better than the original. This got me thinking about God’s grace and mercy. Going back and undoing the work already done to try and get it better next time seemed to me to be like making merit, or working at ‘good’ karma. It seemed to compare to trying to ﬁx things ourselves and yet never being able to get it perfectly right. A new design, a better one, reminded me of God’s kindness and grace and His redemption.
He has, and continues to remake us as a new creation – having the righteousness of Christ, but only in His mercy and not by our own efforts. Of course analogies can never be taken too far, so please don’t over think this one. When I thought about this, though, I was struck by the amazing way God changes us and transforms us to be more like Jesus and how this is all a gift of grace. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ Ephesians 1:8-9 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;’ 2 Corinthians 2:17-18 I was hopeful that our decision to solve the problem by creativity rather than hacking away concrete would in some way speak of God’s grace. I’m not sure that it has…in fact it has been a difﬁcult journey to achieve this. However, when I reﬂect on God’s plan of redemption, I see that it was very costly for our Lord Jesus. Grace is a free gift for us, but it is certainly not without cost. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undeﬁled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,’ 1 Peter 1:3-4