Delays could have caused frustrations, but they also brought this church community together.
Insurance companies define an “act of God” as damage done that is out of the control of humans. This may include damage done by wind, heavy rain, severe lightning, or hail. Within a five-month period last year, Cornerstone Church in Bourbonnais, Illinois, experienced this firsthand.
In July 1998, the church family excitedly gathered for the long-anticipated ground-breaking ceremony for a new church building. We had been meeting in a local middle school cafeteria for worship for three years, and we happily anticipated a May 1999 completion date of our beautiful, new building. However, God had other plans. This date was pushed back after a windstorm caused two twenty-foot brick walls to collapse on November 10, 1998. We were thankful that no one was injured. It took some time to get back to building again, and just when we were once again going full force in the construction process, a second windstorm blew the trusses into the middle of the worship center, causing the tops of the walls to fall down on March 17, 1999.
As I prayerfully pondered these two powerful, destructive events, I tried to understand what was God trying to communicate to this body of believers. Ultimately, I believe that God was showing us that this church building is his and will be finished when he wants it finished! Even though this congregation is dedicated and excited to serve God and the community, God is reminding us that, “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). God knows when it will be the best time for this church to open its doors for expanded ministry.
Pastor Bob Grysen says, “We are learning to run on God’s timing and according to his plan. I am convinced that his timing is perfect for us. That is the faith lesson we are learning.”
With these two acts of God, I see God “acting” in our lives. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:3: “A time to break down and a time to build up.” Spiritually, the Lord has been teaching us to break down the sin in our lives as he has broken down the building. However, as we reconstructed our building of brick and mortar, he built in us a closer relationship with him. We are living the very Scripture for which our church is named. As Ephesians 2:19-21 states: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”
Every day our community of believers is moving toward a deeper relationship with God. The trials are preparing us to be the people we need to be in order to best serve others. I realize that some may see these acts of God as setbacks, but I see them as tools God used to make us a more faithful and united church community with a rock-solid and promising future.
“Acts of God” was published in the June 2000 issue of The Church Herald.