The above disputed statement has been kicked around like a football by both sides on the political gridiron. However, I want to apply it to myself at this season of my summit life: Looking in the rear view mirror, I know I'm not self-made.
Whenever I view the rolling of credits at the conclusion of a movie or a TV documentary, I'm amazed at how many people and how many diverse skills and professions and talents and technical and artistic abilities it took to “build” that entertaining or informative project. For some epic productions the screen roll of names and their specialties goes on for many minutes as I watch astounded.
No, I didn't build my own life. God is the Master Builder who chose to give me life and breath in the first place, and has sustained me for eight decades. I have tried to live according to His blueprint but with admitted deviations and detours since God thought it was good to endow His human children with the gift of free will. I confess that at times I have sung with Sinatra, “I did it my way!” Thank God for His patience and love. He has always drawn me back to the high road from the low road of my self-will.
I didn't build my ethnicity, my gender, my parentage, place of birth, nor my DNA. God built all that. He ordained the moment of history when I should live my life and decreed the global events of the earth-life that would affect me.
The Lord brought into my life from my infancy to my present age exactly the people and circumstances which built the human and spiritual infrastructure which makes me who I am. I still don't look exactly like the picture on the top of the box of puzzle pieces since I'm still a work in progress. Each person who touched my life was a puzzle piece God provided to build my spiritual life and character.
I want to roll some credits. For the record, and because it is the will of God in Christ Jesus that we should “give thanks in all things,” I want to give credit where credit is due. My parents' decision to have me baptized as an infant built the first spiritual framework for my life marking me as a child of God. While both my parents worked, my gentle, immigrant grandmother from Europe who didn't speak any English was my first loving and patient caregiver in her late years. Grandmother built the earliest spiritual graces into my toddler life through her prayers, nurture, and godly example.
I grew up in a safe neighborhood with playmates whose parents all knew one another. My school experiences helped build into me social and academic skills. I credit an English teacher who built into me a love of reading and encouraged my potential for writing.
In my teen years my church, youth group activities, and Christian summer camps built my faith. As a result I made a life commitment to Jesus Christ. I credit faithful Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, and the preaching of my pastor for building my strong biblical foundation. My closest friends were Christians which helped build my character. Professors in a Christian college shaped my worldview, solidified my sense of call to mission work overseas, and prepared me for my career. My marriage set my direction to China and ministry among Chinese students on university campuses which continues to this day.
Were I to roll the credits with the actual names of the many people around the world who invested themselves into my life, as I invested myself into theirs, the scrolling would go on endlessly. God knows who they are since He selected each one. I may have forgotten faces and places but each one added another brick to the edifice of my life.
Through the many seasons of my life the Holy Spirit built into me the desire for an ever closer relationship with Jesus, always drawing me to press forward higher and deeper. That was the infrastructure for the unseen building that is the "real me.” Even in my summit years He continues to draw me to a greater fullness of faith than I could have envisioned until my building will one day be complete. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Cor. 5:1).
I'm quick to say of my life, “I didn't build that!”
“You are God's building” (1 Cor 3:9).