Lately my office has been overrun with samples. For the past three months our church has been undergoing major renovations to our 50+ year old sanctuary. As committees have met and decisions have been made, a large hoard of samples has found its way into my work space. The collection has included, at one time or another, such items as: carpet samples, window trim samples, window treatment samples, floor tile samples, wall tile samples, stone samples, brick samples, upholstery samples, chair samples, lettering samples, architectural diagrams, seating charts, cardboard templates for an oak cross and a new pulpit, acoustical fabric samples, countertop samples, lettering samples, computer-generated graphics of window designs, decor and wood trim, samples of stair rails, newel posts and spindles, paint samples, and lighting schematics. Each one of these miniature versions of the real thing were presented to allow us to envision what our finished product would look like. It helped move our imagination along toward a most robust picture of what would be.
Our congregation was eager for the transformation to take place; they had prayed, dreamed and generously given, saved to pay for all that would come and approved the plan. But intentions, samples and dreams can only take you so far; for the vision to turn into reality it took a talented team of architects, craftsmen, carpenters, salesmen, stonemasons, painters, carpet installers, electricians, consultants, designers, laborers, organ installers, piano tuners, manufacturers, fabricators, sign-makers, tile layers, cabinetmakers, plumbers, CAD operators and audio and video technicians
Looking back and sorting through the now obsolete samples, I am reminded that God sprinkles some samples of things to come into our lives. Since our faith rests on faith, much of what we anticipate in the future of our lives and in eternity is not seen- it awaits the final unveiling. We need something to examine in advance to hold in our hands and imagine what lies beyond. These samples don’t come in display binders or attached to display boards. They come in the love and kindness shown to a loved one or a stranger. They arrive as a needed dose of sunshine or a splash of color. They pop up as an unexpected blessing or the reception of a kind word. They are messages of God’s love and care for us that are sprinkled across the pages of the Bible. They are the promises of redemption as seen in a cross or an empty tomb. They are the words of hope spoken at a funeral and they are the words of commitment spoken by a bride and groom in a place of worship.
As I spend this day dealing with the clutter of samples from a project completed, I want to redouble my efforts to not miss the samples of God’s presence that He has hidden in the confines of this day-samples that should and do reassure me that what God is building in my life and for me in eternity are indeed real. Why don’t you look for some samples in your life, too?