27 Dec 2011
Sometimes We Build What We Didn’t Plan To Build
We have a place up in Canada we call the Malibu Lodge. It’s isolated at the end of an inlet and is only accessible by taking a boat or a seaplane fifty miles beyond where all the roads end. Because it’s so remote, we need to make just about everything, including our own electricity.
We generate power for the Lodge from a glacier on the property. It’s not that complicated, really. We use a river that has carved its way down one of the mountains. Two thousand feet up the side of this mountain, we collect water out of the river in a pipe and the force of the gravity pulling the water through the pipe is enough to make a turbine spin in a hydroelectric plant we built near sea level. I’m still amazed that gravity and a little water we can generate 100 kilowatts of power every minute of every day for free – forever.
The equipment we bought to make the electricity is pretty cheap, actually. It’s building a road up the side of the mountain to the intake that’s expensive. Every foot of the three miles of road we’ve built so far has been blasted out of solid granite and for any dad with young boys, the idea of blasting miles of road together out of granite is irresistible. Nothing says fatherhood more, I guess, than a couple sticks of dynamite.
This winter, I decided that we’d build a bridge over the river at the end of the road. In order to build it, we needed to pour large concrete foundations on each side. These concrete foundations needed to be sturdy to carry the weight of the sixty foot span and the steel I-beams for the bridge. What I didn’t realize though, is how many trips back and forth through the river our big excavator would need to make in order to build the foundation in on the far side. The way it worked out, with all of those trips, we actually ended up building a road through the river. And, guess what? Now we don’t need a bridge. I suppose we could still use the bridge because it’s been built and everything, but who would want to go over a river when you could drive right through it?
We all set out to build things in our lives. Things like careers, or relationships, or faith, or confidence or even organizations. And in the process of setting out to build one thing, sometimes we discover that we’ve built something else too. Something even more useful; more meaningful; more enduring; something that’s a better fit for us.
Some people talk about “building bridges” to people too. Usually, it’s when they’re describing how they’re trying to reach out to a friend who’s in the middle of their pain or where the gravity of life has become just too much for them. People talk about bridges when they talk about how God wants to connect with us too. But I don’t think I’ll use that phrase anymore. You see, I’ve built a bridge. And while I ended up with what I set out to make – a way to get over a river, I ended up with something even better in the process – a way to get through it. I think that maybe God had in mind the same thing for us when He gave us our friendships. We think at first that we’ve built these friendships to help us get over the difficulties in life when actually, we figure out later that God was building those friendships to help us get through them.
When have you been surprised by how you started building one thing in your life and ended up with another?