Marvin received a phone call from a favorite uncle that morning telling him about a job that he had been working on. It seems there was an old school building that was being torn down and since this uncle was in the business of bulldozing he had been hired to tear down the building. He is a man who loves to see things used and not wasted and he was calling to ask Marvin if he had any need for a large amount of—wait for it………cinder blocks. CINDER BLOCKS, PEOPLE!! (Have you read Part 1 yet? If so, you can begin to imagine our excitement, our awe.)
Of course, Marvin told him that we did have a need for them and made arrangements to go and pick them up. He called me and said, “You’re not going to believe what Uncle Billy just gave me!” But, I could believe it. It’s what God had said he would do. What I couldn’t believe was the condition of these blocks and what had to be done in order to make them usable for our purposes.
You see, these blocks weren’t new. They weren’t stacked nicely at a facility where they were being sold by someone who would lift pallets of them up onto the bed of a truck or trailer for you to bring home and begin to use. No, they were scattered in mountains of piles, mingled with debris, and there were thousands of them. Marvin took his dump truck, my brother, and our son to the site where this blessing lay scattered and one by one they began the exhausting job of loading these heavy blocks onto the bed of the truck.
Later that day Marvin pulled into the driveway and around to the back of the old hammer mill building and dumped the first truck load. He was hot and dusty, thirsty and tired, and smiling. He left again and a couple of hours later returned with another dump truck load of this incredible gift. When he patted his clothes mortar dust would plume into the air, his skin was covered with a layer of the dirty white powder. He was still more over heated and exhausted but there was an even bigger smile on his face when he left again to get another dump truck load. This went on all day and into the evening until he had finally loaded one by one enough cinder blocks to fill the large dump truck five times. FIVE TIMES!! Way more blocks than we needed for the retaining wall. But, God knew what would be needed in the future that we couldn’t yet begin to imagine, and He was setting us up to succeed in our decision to live debt-free and to be obedient to Him.
He does that, gives you over and above what you need; because, His ways are not our ways and His thoughts and plans are not our thoughts and plans, that’s why we need to seek His direction and wisdom and guidance. He sees what we could never see, and He shows it to us. He knew that school was going to come down when we were sitting on our old front porch swing terrified to step out of the boat and terrified to stay in it. If we stepped out of the boat and onto the water, would we sink? If we stayed in the boat, we knew we certainly would. Our boat was filled with debt and was going down anyway, so we stepped out of it and instead of sinking into the waves we found ourselves standing on dry ground that was rich with every good thing to sustain us, including the cinder blocks that we couldn’t afford to buy new.
Yes, they were old blocks from an old building and they were covered with old mortar. It was springtime in the south, which meant that it was like a thousand degrees outside. These blocks weren’t in any kind of usable condition, and I certainly didn’t have a clue how to lay them; so, guess what job I was assigned to do? Yep, it was my job to take a hammer and knock all the old mortar off of the sides of each and every block being careful not to chip the blocks. You know what happens when you hit a cinder block with a hammer? It chips! IT CHIPS, PEOPLE!!
So, I was as careful as I could be with each of these almost 40-pound blocks. I figured out the best angle to swing my hammer and the correct amount of force to use and I began to clean the old off of these blocks and make them new again. Wonder how many times He has had to do that with me? Patiently, careful not to chip and break me, working inside my heart to remove old mortar that once caused me to cling to a place that I no longer belonged, or maybe never belonged in the first place. Cleaning me up and making me new again so that I could fulfill the purpose that He had for my life. I had a lot of time to think as I was sitting under the pop-up gazebo style tent that Marvin had put up in order to shield me from the scorching heat of the sun while I worked.
We came up with a pretty good assembly line style system to get this job done. AprilDawn would stack blocks near me so that I could reach them, I’d put them one by one in front of me so that I could knock the old mortar off then stack them into another area once they were cleaned, Simon would roll a wagon over to the cleaned block stacks, load it, and roll the blocks into where Marvin was working to lay them, building a new wall. AprilDawn also helped me clean the blocks when she wasn’t moving them. On school days, while the children were doing their work and Marvin was away at his job, I would go outside and work for hours cleaning and stacking blocks.
We were doing hard labor together. We were sore and sunburned together. We were bonding together. Like the new mortar being used to bind these old cinder blocks into one retaining wall, God used this process to knit our hearts together with the shared memory of our story.
Once I read that family’s who go camping tend to be closer knit than family’s who don’t because camping, by definition, entails a certain amount of roughing it; and humans, by nature, bond through adversity because they are working together to reach a common goal. In retrospect, I can see why God gave us cinder blocks in that condition; because, He wasn’t just building our house out of the excess of society, He was also building our family!
How about you, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment below and…
Let’s Grow Together!