Counting the Cost

   My beloved father was the sole proprietor of a small commercial construction company in Dallas, Texas for over thirty-five years.  Over a professional lifetime he built over one hundred churches and almost as many schools. He was a good and godly man whose life was grounded in fundamental principles of honesty, integrity, and Christian character. At a time in our history when the idea of social consciousness was not a popular concept, he had a well-defined social conscience and chose not to construct buildings intended to provide goods and services that would be detrimental to individuals in particular, or to society in general. He demonstrated his commitment to this non-negotiable business principle on more than one occasion. I vividly remember a conversation in which he explained with great patience why he would not build a liquor store.

   My father was a good estimator both in his work and in his life. After he died in 2005, I found in his Bible a verse that he had marked. In the precise handwriting of a civil engineer, he noted Luke 14:28-30 as the Estimator’s Verse, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish’” (ESV).

   When we grieve the death of one we love, sooner or later we realize that if we are to survive and live forward, we must rebuild our life. Like any good estimator, we sit down and count the cost. We question whether we want to make the effort it will take to rebuild. We consider what we must do to help ourself. We acknowledge the commitment, consistency, persistence, and fortitude it will take to reconstruct our life for an unknown future.

   Counting the cost is about seeking and finding answers to some of the questions of life and grief. Do I have the faith needed to believe in the future? What do I see when I try to envision the future? Do I believe that God has a plan for my life beyond this time of grief? Answering the questions of grief is part of the work of rebuilding. Faith in God’s plan for our unknown future restores us to life and makes us whole, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 RSV).

   As we excavate the past and pour a new foundation for the remainder of our life, we roll up our sleeves with self-discipline and resolve, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Let each builder choose with care how to build on it” (1 Corinthians 1:3:10). 

   By observation and example I learned from my father that building is risky business. When we risk our emotional capital and invest our spiritual energy in rebuilding our life, inevitably the rewards exceed our wildest expectations, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).

   Though we have no idea how long it will take or when we will be finished, with single-minded focus on what lies ahead we do the work to rebuild our life. We dare to hope and dream again. We reassemble the best of who we are, shaped and transformed by our experience of grief. We count the cost and assess the risk. We prepare and plan for the future knowing that in God, the best is yet to be. In faith, we rebuild our life.

For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:9



Add a Comment