“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” – Luke 14:28-30
The first time I heard the sound, it was a Sunday night in the fall of 1983. I was a typical seven year old boy in church; drawing pictures on the bulletin, chewing a piece of gum, and imagining myself rescuing everyone in the sanctuary from bad guys. Yet in the midst of my multitasking, I also had a listening ear to what was being said from the pulpit. It was a service filled with the typical sounds associated with most worship services. There was the choir. There was the humming sound of HVAC unit as it quietly clicked on and off. There were the familiar voices of the families that sat around us each and every week. That night, my ears were flooded with the comfort of familiar sounds. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a new sound. The sound took me by surprise as it roared through the sanctuary as a rolling wave at sea.
What was the sound? It was the sound of the congregation standing in unison as they voted to adopt the plans presented that night by the church long range planning committee. It was a swoosh-like sound, as the people stood and the 3,500 theater-style seats of our sanctuary simultaneously folded upward. With that historic decision, Bellevue Baptist Church would relocate to 370 acres of property in east Memphis just off of Interstate 40.
There are just some sounds that stay with us as they echo through the hallways of our past. For instance, I can still hear the sound of the train that faithfully whistled passed my grandmother’s house each and every night. I can still hear the sweet sound of the backdoor to my childhood home slam shut. I can hear the sound my mother’s laugh as if she were right here with me. But also a track on my life playlist is the swoosh-like sound I heard in that church service back in 1983.
Added to my life soundtrack in 2012 was a similar sound as the church I pastored in Tennessee (Grace Baptist) unanimously voted to move forward with the new sanctuary building plans. A uniform swoosh-like sound filled the room as rain drops tapped upon the metal roof. It was also a wonderful sound and a moment that I will never forget.
Why did these two particular church votes separated by thirty years and eighty miles sound so similar; because there is an overwhelming confidence the Lord graciously extends to His children as they act upon His will. The cornerstone of the Church is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22), and when the body of Christ pursues God’s agenda by building upon the foundation He has laid, there will always be a unified spirit within the congregation. The swoosh-like sound of a congregation coming to their feet in agreement upon the will of God is glorious sound of praise to God.
Yet throughout our building program at Grace Baptist, I offered words of encouragement laced with warnings. In our passage above, Jesus stressed the importance of counting the cost of being His disciple. He referred to a builder who started the construction of a tower but was not able to finish the project. The builder had failed to consider the cost and thus was not able to finish the tower. Jesus’ reference to construction within this discipleship parable has grabbed my attention in recent days in light of our church’s building project. As the Grace family flips into the pages of the next chapter of our story, we must press on knowing that God will see us through the exciting challenges we face in moving the church to the property. Yet we must also count the cost of being His disciple. Following Him is no easy task. Being a follower of Christ has a high price and we must stay the course to see the tower completed.
– Pastor Eric