It is always of interest to me to read through the list of graduates in the spring of the year and read their hope for their future. It is a time to dream of success and happiness. I do not mean to be a pessimist, but it would be of interest to me if I could read of where that student, that had the great dreams, actually is at the age of 40.

For all of us, life can throw some unexpected hurdles that can cause us to make some serious detours. It is how we handle those hurdles that will determine where life will take us. The train of some people completely falls off the rails, and they fail to attain the significance they once dreamed of.

What do we do with difficult things that happen to us in life? How do we overcome and stay on track despite what life throws at us? Jesus comments on this very issue in the book of Luke. “For which of you, when you want to build a tower, does not first of all sit-down and count the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it will begin to ridicule him. They will say that man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming at him with twenty thousand men.”

Tower building can be very challenging. A.W. Tozer was a pastor in Chicago for many years. I have all of his books, and in one of them, he makes this statement; “it is doubtful that God can use any man greatly until he hurts him deeply.” It can be very costly to build a tower. That is why I would like to read a brief bio of the graduate 20 years after they graduate. Not that I’m a pessimist; I have learned that tower building is expensive, and some do not have the fire in their belly to work through the cost.

I have found this in real life, and I have found this in the Bible. Moses failed in his initial attempt to help his people. This initial attempt cost him dearly. He spent 40 years herding sheep. There is nothing wrong with herding sheep, but herding sheep was not the intent of Moses’ life. It took the miraculous experience of meeting God at the bush that was on fire yet not consumed to propel Moses to fulfill God’s original purpose for his life. Why did it take forty years for God to prepare Moses for the tower he was to build? Only God and Moses know what took place in his life that gave him the qualifications God was looking for.

The life of Joseph is such a great example of this issue. A careful study of Joseph’s life is tragic. He is sold as a slave by his own brothers. I can see this young man on the auction block in Egypt as prospective buyers of this young man probe every part of his body to see what he is worth. His time in prison is so unfair, falsely condemned by a beautiful woman. Where is God in all of this? Have you ever asked that question as you have spent time wondering where God is? Tozer’s words become right on target as Joseph stands before the Pharaoh of Egypt, interpreting his dream. I listen as this Godless man plans the future that God intended for Joseph. “Can we find such a man as this?’ asks the Pharoah. Joseph’s tower was costly.

Yes, tower building can be expensive. It is true even in our world of work. You cannot go to one of the trades in our marketplace and expect a warm handshake and welcome to the club of successful people. You do not become a master mechanic without first becoming an apprentice. As an apprentice, you are introduced to the trade, the tools, and the work. You then put in years of work as the apprentice to become a journeyman; then, you put in more years to become a “master” in the trade. That’s all a part of the cost of building a tower.

Two words come to my mind on this subject. The first is belief. Do I believe the tower is worth the cost that it takes to build it? Why did I want to build the tower in the first place? Do I still believe in what I believed in, or have time and culture changed my values? I must determine if what I believe is really true, and through all the conflict, that belief and faith keep me building.

The second word that comes to my mind is silence, especially in knowing God. Think of it: Moses’ life was filled with silence, Joseph’s world was filled with silence, and Paul’s world while spending three years in Arabia was filled with silence. Silence is where God speaks. Elijah was a hunted man by Jezebel and fled to Mount Sinai. While there, he felt the power of wind, the rumble of thunder, and the earth shook with an earthquake, but there was no word from God. As Elijah sat at the opening of the cave, he heard a still, small voice. It was God; after all the noise, God spoke in the silence.

At the end of my education, I became concerned about what the future would hold. After all the education and change in lifestyle, where would my life go? As I finished up my final semester of work, I drove over to Wisconsin to fill the pulpit of a small church in a dairy community. We had just married. We would drive to this small church early Sunday morning, speak Sunday morning and Sunday night, then drive back to our apartment in Minneapolis, where we would arrive at about midnight. As I drove home Sunday nights from this small church, my mind wandered in the silence of the night, and I asked the question, “Is this all?” Is this why I left Montana and struggled through my education to drive on weekends to preach to 25 dairy farmers? I was in the process of building a tower. I was counting the cost of the tower and wondering if I had what it would take to complete it. Little did I know on those lonely drives where life would take me. There is a journey involved in arriving, regardless of how far you have to go. Do you believe in God? Do you believe He is in control of your life, regardless of whether you are a Moses, a Joseph, or a Paul?

He can help you build the tower, providing you do not give up.

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