Carelessness is characterized by not paying attention to what you are doing. I have found myself drifting into deep thought about past memories, some event I was planning, or the like, only to find I really had no idea what had transpired while I was driving from point A to point B. I imagine we have all done this at some time or another. It always amazes me when someone cuts me off suddenly, drawing me back to a place of alert attention. It is as though my heart rate went from the 70's to 100's in a matter of a split second! You know the feeling - heart pounding, feeling a little shaky and just about to come out of your skin! The "near miss" of the car pulling in front of you was a "wake up call", wasn't it? It alerted you to danger - danger you had probably allowed to go quite unrecognized for miles and miles!
Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks; holy living builds soaring cathedrals. There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.(Proverbs 14:11-13 MSG)
Carelessness is also marked by not being exact or thorough in some manner in our lives. It could be the manner in which we go about a certain task, taking short-cuts here and there. Yes, we get it done, but what is the "quality" of what we produced? It is likely it is less than thorough - like when I take a duster over the "visible" spots in my house to immediately give an impression of "cleaning"! The spots which are out of reach, higher up and not easily viewed are kind of left for the "spring cleaning" days. I don't "touch" them as frequently, so they lack the attention until I grow weary looking at the dust gathering!
Solomon points us to another kind of "carelessness" in life - the life lived carefree, unrestrained, and undisciplined. The end result of this type of living is described as "tumbledown shacks". A tumbledown shack is eventually reduced to ruin by the failure to keep it up! There is damage which comes because of age and wear, but then there is the compounding effects of neglect. I think Solomon had a moment of thought about times when he maybe wasn't "paying attention" and the resulting damages those moments brought - or at least the "near misses" he experienced. I wonder just how many "near misses" we could attribute to our own lack of attention?
In contrast, he points out the solidness of the cathedrals of the one who chooses to live with attentiveness. Think of a soaring cathedral. First, the walls are made of well-fit stone or masonry. The strength produced in the "fitted pieces" of the walls gives the cathedral "lasting power". The elements may come which attempt to sway its stability, but it is built well, so it stands strong. The mason did his job well - placing stone upon stone, brick upon brick, with attention to detail. Now, the cathedral stands - immovable. Were the mason not paying attention when he fit the stones together, he may have placed them without thought as to their ability to build upon the other, lending strength and counter-strength. God is a master of details - he puts the pieces of our lives together in such a manner so as to lend strength, but also the counter-strength where we need it most!
A cathedral towers, maybe not above all other buildings, but it stands above the rest in its purpose. If you didn't know this, a cathedral is often built because it is the "throne" of the bishop, or leader of the church. It is a location of authority. The place is built which will be filled with the authority by which we find guidance, wisdom, and strength. When we are not careful in our building, we may allow access to some authority we would rather not serve! God's plan is for us to live wisely - making solid decisions, enthroning him as the authority in our lives. In turn, he commits to lead us well.
A cathedral usually has a "high point" to it. A tower of sorts - often the place for a bell or chimes. In ancient times, a tower was a place of defense - a place to take refuge against the enemy and a place from which you could fight your battles. A careless life lacks places of defense. There is no real refuge point - because the structure of the life is weaker than intended. Compromises weaken the structure of our life - like when the mason just places any old stone in the wall. Wrong focus creates holes in our defenses - like when we choose to submit to the authority of self.
The "high tower" of our lives is built only when the right foundation of solidly built walls and proper authority exist. The result is a place of defense, but also a place of "alertness". Isn't this what the bells or chimes serve to do in the cathedral tower? They alert us to the time of day, the next service to begin, etc. In ancient times, they also called us to battle or some type of movement in our lives. Think of them as the early warning system of ancient times! Some of us need some "early warning systems", don't we? They serve to keep us safe. We are given the Holy Spirit - the best "early warning system" we could ever want. Wouldn't it be a shame to just hear the bells, but never respond to them?
Last, but not least, cathedrals are built. They just don't get put together in the form of "modular pieces". There is not some "kit" they come out of. There is much thought and preparation into their building. The work of the builder is dependent upon the design - a wise architect fashions the design which will create the best results when the builder follows the design! If the architect laid out one set of plans and the builder chose to follow it only half-heartedly, what would come of the building? I think it might not turn out as well as intended. Just as it is important to pay attention in selecting "what" goes into building the cathedral, it is equally important to build according to the plan. God lays out his plan for our lives - we cannot choose which parts of the plan we will follow and which we will reject! We just are not skilled enough in the "building" to do this without the benefit of having the plans to follow!
Just some thoughts today on building "strong cathedrals". I sure don't want us to be in the "tumbledown shack" category, do you? Just sayin!