The Usefulness of Barns. And People.
When we went to Indiana for the reunion I wrote about previously, we went to our favorite "Hoosier Performing Arts Center", which is sort of a tradition with us. I decided to post about it, as it showed how a fresh owner can bring out purpose and function that prior owners didn't. But then the post sort of took off, and God showed me some parallels that I had to write about, too. And just now He pointed out one of my favorite scriptures:
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)
The word translated "acknowledge" there is interesting; my Strong's says it is: "yada ... to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing) ...;". That tells me (and I may be wrong) that we ought to be able to recognize God's working in all our ways. In all that we do. And even in things that others have done, like the Red Barn. I know for myself, that if I cannot, then I'm missing the mark.
After I got to typing, here's what all came out.
This picture is of the Red Barn Summer Theatre, in the farmland near Frankfort, Indiana. As the name suggests, it was a barn which was originally used as such, but then came under new ownership; the new owners had a different use in mind.
In about 1968, a group of civic-minded folks came into control of the old barn building, which had served its owner-farmer for years. As such, it had certain uses and purposes, and served them well. But, when the new owners took over, they had different ideas. Certain structural changes and additions were made, its appearance was re-done, and the barn assumed its new purpose and was put to work.
Its new purpose is to entertain people, but in various forms. We've been there a number of times .. we go there whenever we visit relatives in the area (usually every year) .. and we've seen many different types of plays. I recall mysteries, love stories, comedies; just about every sort of play you can think of. And they were all good, no variety actually being better than the others. Sure, I like some forms better than others, but different people prefer different varieties.
I checked out their website this morning. In addition to explaining its purpose, it also sets out forms of support, for folks interested in helping them continue the tradition there. They have what they term Contributors, Sustaining Patrons, Benefactors, and Angels (I find it interesting that the highest form of involvement is Angels). And all are appreciated and each of the classes gets the same benefit ... two season tickets, and the expressed gratitude of the owners in their printed program each week.
The best reflection of how Peg and I feel about The Red Barn is that we go there, with some of Peg's family, every time we're in Indiana.
A couple of things are notable about the Red Barn. One is that the barn had no say in what its use became. The owners determined that. And, neither did the original builders have a say. For that matter, the previous owners didn't, either. It was all up to the new owner to determine that.
Another thing is that the new owners might, some day, think up a new purpose for it, and the barn would have no say in that. Changes might have to be made to the barn, and the owners would be responsible for that; both planning, designing, constructing, and paying.
So let's think about people. We're born into families who have certain ideas about us, our future, and our reason for being here. We grow up with certain ideas about where we're going and why we're going there. We use our heads and our hearts to make our plans, and we get on with it all. Just like the barn's original builders and owners. And we may go on with that for many years.
Ahhh .. but then we meet Jesus. And we find ourselves with new owners.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV)
Now there's a change in ownership, and in purpose! I don't think it took that old barn long to notice the changes that came when it was bought with a price, and it shouldn't take us long, either.
Now, the new owners might have just let it sit, and if the barn was able to see things for itself, it might never have noticed. But the new owners didn't take over just to leave it the way it was, and neither did Jesus purchase us to leave us the way we used to be. And we know that, whatever variety of plan He has for us, He will make the changes necessary in us, and provide us with the things needed to accomplish those plans. If the owners of the Red Barn wouldn't leave out the stage, or the seats, or the lights, neither will our Owner leave out what we need, either.
**EDIT** I have to add this. Other people may have ideas what the barn's purpose is, or ought to be, or what ought or ought not go on in there, but it's ultimately up the owner to decide that. And it's up to the barn to comply, in purpose and in practice. While we may admire the structure itself, or enjoy what goes on there, all the credit goes to the owner. And I'd remind you that, while the Red Barn's owners may profit from advice and counsel, God Almighty doesn't need anyone to counsel HIM. HE speaks for Himself.**END EDIT**
My goodness, I could go on and on about this, so I'll close with this: You were bought with a price. You were created, Spiritually, to be about some tasks which your Heavenly Father set in motion before you were ever born. And, like the barn, they'll require some structural changes and some changes in direction, plus there may be one, or more, of many different varieties of service involved.
The results will be glorious, just as what goes on at the Red Barn Summer Theatre is a wonderful tribute to its new owners. IF .. you're willing to let your new owners make some changes, and then use you for His new purpose.