The other day I was counting up the concrete projects we have undertaken on the farm over the years. About seven or eight times, we have been “privileged” to launch into a big job of grading, forming, pouring, and finishing concrete. These projects have ranged from pouring everything from shed floors and porches to barn aprons. Call me strange, but there are lessons in these experiences which remind me of scriptural principles. Please indulge me while I share a few of these timely lessons for you ole farmhands out there.
- Don’t skimp on preparation. The first major concrete job I did myself was pouring a floor in an old cattle shed. I am certain the cement truck driver thought I was crazy when he arrived. I don’t remember leveling up the grade, or even understanding the importance of doing so. I’m sure the depth of the slab varied greatly, and it was a very amateurish job all around. With subsequent jobs, I have gradually learned the importance of proper preparation. It not only makes estimating materials easier, but it makes for a better, structurally sound job after it’s completed. Spiritually speaking, life is a lot like that. We may not understand the importance of preparation at first, but it is absolutely critical. “Remember also thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,” (Eccl. 12:1). All of life is about “preparing to meet thy God,” (Amos 4:12).
When the cement truck arrives, it’s too late to prepare. The driver is not going to stand around while you make last-minute preparations. The cement has arrived and it’s time to act. How sad and costly to be unprepared! Spiritually, how devastating that bitter cry: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jer. 8:20). Prepare well!
- Make the form a little stronger. When the rushing, heavy concrete flows into your form, will it withstand the strain? Did you build it substantial enough? I have watched the weight of flowing concrete push forms out of line, out of position, ruining the job. And I have learned from excellent concrete workers the importance of making the forms extremely solid.
In life, we are going to be faced with storms and tribulations. As Priscilla Owens asked in her classic hymn, “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?” Have you built upon the solid rock, or merely upon the sand? “When the strong tides lift and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain?” It’s important to fortify our faith before the storms arrive. And those storms will likely be much heavier and oppressive then we could have imagined.
- Be ready to work. Once the concrete is poured, the work really begins. Finishing concrete is hard, intensive labor. The concrete is setting up fast, and will not wait for anyone. This is no time to take a break for lunch or go off and get a drink of water. This is the time to work. Like Jesus said, “We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work,” (Jn. 9:4).
You can tell good concrete finishers because they know what needs to be done, and they jump right into it without having to be told. They also work well together, and recognize the value of each individual part. This is like workers in the kingdom, who labor faithfully and tirelessly for the Master in the most important work of all. I used to hear it said in prayer, “Lord, wear us out in thy service.” Do we still have that desire? Do we know what hard work really is?
- After a while, some things cannot be changed. There is a chemical reaction which occurs in hardening concrete, and it really begins to set up fast. After that, there is no changing it. It’s going to remain in that condition indefinitely.
The Bible speaks of the danger of a hardened heart, which can no longer be changed. “Exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” (Heb. 3:13). If there is someone in your life whom you can influence, or if you can change yourself, do it now! Don’t wait another day, because things are setting up fast. And there is coming a time when you will be able to change it no more! By the same token, there is a great beauty about hardened concrete, and aren’t we glad that it is not forever shifting and changing! And aren’t we thankful for God’s mature, battle-worn soldiers, who have grown and “hardened” into faithful Christians!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.