Joel Osteen — Under Construction
I want to talk to you today about, "Under construction". One time, Victoria and I were building a house. The foundation was poured and most of the framing was up. The roof was in place but no shingles. There was a big storm. It rained on and off for a couple of days. When it cleared up, we went over to check on the house. It was so messy.
The living room was lower than the other rooms: it had about a foot of water in it, like a dirty swimming pool. Plywood was floating. Workers had tracked mud all through the house. Outside, there was trash piled high that couldn't be picked up because of all the rain. Looked like a disaster, disorganized, things out of place. What's interesting is we didn't say, "Let's stop building. This place is so messy. It's never going to be what we wanted". We knew it was all a part of the process. You can't have a beautiful house without rain, mud, Sheetrock dust, paint that doesn't smell good.
In the same way, you have to see the things that are messy in your life, the things you struggle with, the things that seem out of place, as simply under construction. Doesn't mean it's not going to work out. That water in your living room, the disappointment, the betrayal, the delay, you may not like it but it's all a part of the process. You're under construction. You can't become all you were created to be without some messy places. To the untrained eye, a construction site can look disorganized, random, but to the architect it's no big deal. They're not worried. They drew the plans. They know exactly where it's going. Your architect is the Most High God. He's designed a specific plan for your life.
The good news is the messy places can't stop your destiny. The delays, the things you don't understand, even the mistakes you've made, he's already taken them into account, and you may not see how your dream could ever work out. You feel like you're stuck. God is saying, "You're right on schedule. You're not a finished product. I'm still working on you. What I started, I'm going to bring to completion". The accuser will whisper, "Not you. You have too many flaws, too many weaknesses. You've made too many mistakes". Just remind him, "I'm under construction. I may have some messy places but God's not finished with me".
Paul said in Ephesians: "You are a masterpiece". You may not be there quite yet but instead of beating yourself up, living with that negative recording, how you don't measure up, our attitude should be, "I'm a masterpiece in the making". Well, you still struggle with that addiction. "Yes, but I know a secret: I'm under construction. God's still working on me". You still have the temper. You still say things that you shouldn't. "Yes, but I'm better than I was last year. I'm growing. I'm coming up higher and I know this: what God started, he's going to finish". You have to look beyond the mess and see the masterpiece.
God told Abraham that he was going to have a son and become the father of many nations. But he and his wife Sarah were too old, way past the childbearing years. They prayed, stood in faith for years, still no baby. Sarah said, "Abraham, I have an idea. Why don't you sleep with the maid and maybe God will give us this son that he promised"?
Abraham didn't even have to pray about this one. "No problem, honey. Whatever you say". He slept with the maid. They had a son that they named Ishmael. They were so excited. They finally had their baby. God said, "Abraham, Sarah, that is not the promised child. That's your own doing". This caused all kinds of strife and division. Sarah got mad at Abraham: "What were you thinking, sleeping with the maid"? He said, "What do you mean? You're the one that told me to do it". She said, "I know but you shouldn't have listened to me". Lord, help all of us men.
Abraham and Sarah were at odds, arguing with each other. If that wasn't bad enough, Sarah was so upset with the maid, she gave Abraham an ultimatum: "Either the maid is leaving or I'm leaving but we're not staying here together". Abraham felt badly about it. The maid hadn't done anything wrong, yet he had to send her and his son out into the desert.
Now, Abraham is the father of our faith. You would be hard-pressed to find a more dysfunctional family than them. He was in a messy place, had a baby out of wedlock. Strife, trouble, division in his house. Most people would have written them off, thought, "It's too late for you guys. You need to be on reality TV, 'real housewives of the Bible,' you've got so much drama in your house".
God looked at them and said, "Under construction". The messy places are all a part of the process. It may be uncomfortable, you don't understand it. You may have brought the trouble on yourself. But it's not a surprise to God. When he designed your plan, he took that into account. Despite their wrong choices, despite their dysfunction, at 90 years of age, God caused Sarah to conceive and give birth to Isaac, the promised child. If Abraham and Sarah saw their promise come to pass after all that mess, what makes you think God is not going to bring to pass what he's promised you?
"Well, Joel, my situation is too messy". It couldn't be any messier than theirs. "Well, I have water in my living room, mud on my floors". You're under construction. That's a part of the process. It doesn't mean that God is not going to finish what he's started. Here's how amazing God is. It says in romans that Abraham did not waver in his faith. Having a baby out of wedlock? To me, that's wavering. Being impatient, trying to make things happen in your own strength, having to kick somebody out of your house? That seems like wavering. But God does not see the construction process as wavering. The mistakes Abraham made, the strife, the dysfunction. God didn't hold that against him. In fact, God called Abraham a hero of faith.
Why don't you quit beating yourself up because you're under construction? When God brings you to completion, when he delivers you from the addiction, when he turns your family around, he's not going to remember your weaknesses. He's not going to bring up past mistakes and failures. God knows when we're under construction, we all have messy places. We all make mistakes. We all have things to overcome but that is not going to keep you from becoming a masterpiece. It's only temporary. But one of the worst mistakes we could make is to go through life against ourselves, focused on our failures, on the times we blew it, the times we failed.
You have enough people and circumstances already against you, don't be against yourself. You have to be at peace with being under construction. You're going to have some messy places, some things you don't understand, some weaknesses that you haven't overcome. The accuser will work overtime, reminding you of everything you've done wrong, how you're not going to reach your destiny. Instead of believing those lies, going around guilty, no passion, why don't you turn it around? "Father, thank you that you're still working on me. I know this mess is a sign that I'm under construction. Just like with Abraham, despite my shortcomings, despite my failures, you're still going to get me to where I'm supposed to be". When you live like that, God will say about you what he said about Abraham: you did not waver in your faith.
We see this with Peter, one of Jesus's disciples. He was hot-tempered, he used bad language. One time he got angry and cut off a soldier's ear. One moment he was defending Jesus, a man of great courage. Another moment he was denying Jesus, swearing to the authorities that he didn't know him. People could have looked at him, "Peter, you're a mess. You have issues". God looked at him and said, "Under construction".
The difference between how people saw him and how God saw him is God had the plans. God could see what he was going to become. People just saw his flaws, his hot temper, his instability. This is why it's so important that we don't judge people, don't write anybody off. We can't see their plans. We don't know what God has designed for them. We see people that make mistakes, have weaknesses. We think, "Boy, they're never going to get it together". We don't realize they're under construction: God's still working on them.
I have enough weaknesses of my own to deal with: I don't have time to judge somebody else for their weaknesses. But I love the fact that Jesus chose Peter even though he knew he was hot-tempered. He knew he was impatient. He knew he used bad language. He didn't choose him because he was perfect: he chose him because he had the blueprint. He knew he wasn't a finished product. Peter ended up becoming one of the most influential respected leaders.
What am I saying? Where you are now is not necessarily important. It's where you're going. That mess did not disqualify you. The mess means you're under construction. When you see other people that look like they have it all together, don't feel bad about yourself. Everyone is under construction in some area. We all have some messy places.
Here's the point. Let God make you and mold you. Stay pliable. We should be better this year than we were last year. Don't let the mess become permanent, the addiction, the hot temper, the negative attitude. That is not who you are. Keep growing. Keep resisting the temptation. Keep saying no to carnal desires. Every time you do the right thing, the next time it gets a little bit easier, and there's nothing wrong with being under construction but there is something wrong with not making any progress. Do your part. Be willing to change. God will do his part. He'll help you to come up higher.
Sometimes when you see a construction site, you can't tell if they're tearing something down or building something up. I was downtown one time. There was this big pile of dirt several stories high and, over on the other side, there was this pile of debris, metal, bricks. They had torn down this small structure, they were digging the foundation for a huge skyscraper. There was a hole probably 100 feet in the ground and they were pouring these deep piers. The taller the building, the deeper the foundation has to go.
What's interesting is you can't see the foundation. It's underground, it's hidden, but you could argue that it's the most important part. They could build a huge tower but if they didn't take time to put the proper foundation, it wouldn't last, and there are times that we know we're supposed to be going up. We have big dreams. God's put promises in our hearts, but it feels the opposite, like we're going down. We're not growing, not seeing good breaks. What we may not realize is God is working on our foundation, on our character, on how we treat people, on how we respond to adversity. We don't like these times but they are extremely important.
Like the building, the higher you're going to go, the deeper your foundation has to be. Don't get discouraged when things are not happening on your timetable. God knows what he's doing. Keep passing the test. Those things that are not changing, but you're keeping a good attitude, that's making you stronger. When you're good to people that are not good to you, your foundation is going down deeper. That's a sign you're getting prepared to go higher.
But God will not release what he has for you until he knows you can handle it. It wouldn't be a blessing if he gave it to you and you weren't ready. If God has an 80-story building planned for you but he only designed a 40-story foundation, it may be easier but that would be doing you a disservice. Don't fight the foundation work, don't get sour because things aren't moving as fast as you would like. Something is happening that you can't see. Your foundation is going down deeper. You're being prepared to go to new levels.
When our house was being built, most of the walls were up but the carpenters, they put in a couple of extra walls. I was over there with the plans. I thought, "These walls are out of place. These walls are a mistake. They're right in the middle of the room". I asked the builder about it. He said, "They're predicting high winds the next couple of weeks so I had them build these temporary walls to help brace the main ones until we could get the roof on". As the builder, because he had more knowledge, more experience, he was doing things that didn't make sense to me. All I could see is "This wall is out of place. It is not supposed to be here". But he did it on purpose. He knew it was out of place. He also knew it was only temporary.
In the same way, God as our builder will allow things that we don't understand. Looks like a mistake, but God has a reason. He allowed it for a purpose that we can't see, then he's going to remove it. "Well, Joel, I'm working at this job where I'm not using my gifts. I have so much more in me. This seems like a mistake". God knows that's not your final destination but he wouldn't have allowed it if he didn't have a purpose for it. Do you think the God who is so precise, so detailed, that he causes the earth to rotate down to the exact millisecond is going to somehow falter on your plan, let something happen that wasn't designed, a bad break to keep you from your destiny? If God made a mistake with you, you would be the first one.
What am I saying? Trust him while you're under construction. Trust him in the messy places. Trust him when you're sure it's a mistake. Sometimes God has to take us backwards before he can take us forward. He has to dig down deep before we can go up higher. He has to prune you before you can bloom. If you'll stay in faith, you're going to see how it's all going to work for your good.
God called Moses to deliver the Israelites. That was the plan laid out for his life. But there were a dozen things that looked like a mistake. When Moses was born, the king put out a decree that all the Hebrew male babies, two years of age and under, would be killed. It looked like God chose the wrong time for him to be born. Why didn't God wait 'til the decree was over?
God likes to do things that defy the odds, things that seem impossible. That way, he gets all the credit. Moses's mother hid him in a basket and sent him down the Nile river. There were snakes, alligators. He could have tipped over, drowned. But what God has ordained for your life, what he has planned before the foundation of time, what's on your blueprint, can't be stopped by decrees, by snakes, by people, by any kind of opposition. Just so happened, Pharaoh's daughter was at the river taking a bath. She heard the cries coming from the basket. When she saw baby Moses, it was love at first sight. She took him in and raised him in the palace.
As he grew up, Moses knew he was supposed to deliver the Israelites, and one day he saw an Egyptian supervisor mistreating a Hebrew slave. He didn't think anyone was watching so he killed the man. Someone saw him. He had to flee for his life. Moses spent 40 years in hiding on the back side of the desert. Looked like he missed his destiny. I'm sure he felt like a failure. But when he was 80 years old, God appeared to him through the burning bush, said, "All right, Moses, now it's time to deliver the Israelites".
You can't find anyone in the scripture that did something significant that didn't have messy places, times they didn't understand, times it wasn't fair, times they felt disqualified but, like with Moses, when it all came together it made sense. They went from construction to completion.
Here's the key. You cannot properly judge the construction process without the plans. You may think, "I'm done, Joel. I'm finished. I made too many mistakes. I've missed my destiny". If you had the plans and that's what they said, I would agree with you. But the problem is, we don't have the plans. God said in Jeremiah, "The plans I have for you are for good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope". What God has planned for you does not end in defeat, in failure, in mediocrity, in addictions, in dysfunction. Your story ends in victory. Paul said in Corinthians, "Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph". I've heard it said, "God always ends in all is well. If all is not well, then it's not the end". If there are things holding you back, things out of place, things messy, that means you're under construction. Don't get discouraged: God is still working.
My father was a great pastor and a man loved and respected by so many. If you saw him toward the end of his life, with a large church and successful, happily married, children that loved him, you might think that it was easy and things just fell into place. But every person has to go through the construction process. When you see someone blessed, fulfilling their purpose, they didn't get there without messy places, things they didn't understand, people that tried to stop them.
My father was born in a messy situation. His family was very poor. When he gave his life to Christ at the age of 17, he left the farm with no money, no education. He hitchhiked and went out and started ministering. He was married at an early age but it didn't work out. He had to resign from his church. Leaders told him that he would never pastor again, a messy situation. He was so discouraged, he left the ministry and started selling insurance. He didn't think he would ever have a family until he met my mother. They fell in love, got married, had five children. He started pastoring again. His church was growing, had over 1000 members.
Back then, that was unheard of. But some of the people turned against my father. They didn't like his message of faith and victory. He had to resign from that church. Another messy situation. He didn't understand it. He was being his best yet the door closed. He and my mother went out and started Lakewood in an abandoned feed store. He was told it would never last, nobody's going to come, you're wasting your time. But here we are today, 59 years later, still going strong.
Here's my point. All those messy situations my father went through, they were on God's plan. He didn't understand why people turned against him. If they had not opposed him, he would have never started Lakewood. Like my father, you may be in a messy situation. People have come against you. You've made mistakes, you've had bad breaks. God is saying, "It's not over. It's all a part of my plan. You're under construction".
We're not going to understand everything that happens. God's ways are not our ways. But here's the promise God gives us. If you'll stay in faith and keep honoring him, then what he started in your life, he's going to bring to completion. What he has planned for you will come to pass. You didn't miss it because you had a rough childhood, somebody walked out and broke your heart, people tried to stop you from your dream. God has the final say. Tune out all those voices telling you that you blew it, you had your chance. God wouldn't have allowed it if it was going to keep you from your destiny. It's all a part of the process. Will you trust him when you're under construction? Will you trust him in the messy places? Will you trust him when it doesn't make sense?
Job in the scripture went through all kinds of bad breaks. He lost his health, his business, his family, everything fell apart, and for a while he was negative, complained. But then he came back to a place of peace. Nothing had turned around. It was still messy, but he said in Job chapter 42: "God, I know you can do anything and no one can stop your plan". This was after 42 chapters of defeat, negativity. When he said this, eight verses later, it says: "God restored Job and brought him out with twice what he had before".
When he changed his attitude, maybe that was the catalyst for God to turn it around. I wonder if we would do like Job: instead of complaining about the mess, being discouraged by what didn't work out, what if we'd start saying, "Father, I want to thank you that nothing can stop your plan for my life. Thank you that what you have ordained for me is on the way".
When we were building our house, at one point all the switches were in, the floors were down, the cabinets were done. The only problem was the power wasn't connected. We were waiting for a permit and a few other things. Every night, Victoria and I would go over to check to see if it was on. For over a month, we were ready with no power. Finally, one evening, we went over and the power was connected. Everything was different. We had lights, air conditioning, the appliances worked. With that one connection, it was a whole new world.
I believe you're about to come in to one of these connections. You've been on the verge of it, you've been honoring God, you're about to see God flip the switch. Suddenly the door opens, suddenly the healing comes. Suddenly the right person shows up. I believe and declare you're about to go from construction to completion. Those things that are hindering you, like job, God's going to bring you out better. Despite mistakes you've made, like Moses you're still going to fulfill your destiny and become everything God's created you to be, in Jesus's name.