We have an awesome photograph of our daughter standing in front of the Tower of Pisa. You may know it as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Standing beside her European tour guide (our family’s former exchange student), our daughter is clearly pleased to be there, posing in front of one of the world’s most recognized structures. Famous because of its failure to stand upright as a building should. Recognized because of its structural malfunction.
Even before its completion, the Tower of Pisa leaned. The ground on one side of the Tower was too soft to hold the structure level, causing it to sink. As the upper floors were constructed, engineers tried to offset the tilt by making one side taller than the other and as a result, the Tower is actually curved.
In recent years a massive reconstruction effort took place in order to save the Leaning Tower from the gravity of its fate. Tons of lead counterweights were added to its base to keep the walls from eventually tumbling down, but because of the obvious tourist attraction, it was determined that any fix could not alter the angle of the lean – only keep it from continuing to tilt. Having been deemed stable in 2008 (for at least another 200 years), the Tower still leans at an angle of 3.97 degrees.
I’m willing to bet that back in 1173, the Tower’s architects didn’t intend for their monument to lean. They started with a plan, just like modern day builders do, but were met with unexpected conditions and unanticipated complications once the work had begun.
They had choices at every turn. They could have stopped the project or changed locations to an area of stable ground. They could have altered the design and made the building wider or shorter than originally planned. With every choice, their creation acquired character and substance, ultimately making it into the architectural wonder that it is today.
There had to be some for whom the Pisa debacle was both a disappointment and an embarrassment. Others who were further removed from the construction itself may very well have gotten a chuckle out of watching the fancy new building begin to lean. The Tower team was likely the butt of many jokes in surrounding communities – you can imagine how that must have played out.
In all likelihood, the builders and owners of the Tower of Pisa did not Want What They Got when they realized that they had built their house on sand. Little did they know that hundreds of years later, tourists from around the globe would be lining up with toothy grins for snapshots in front of their project-gone-south.
Some of us rolled out of bed today feeling like the butt of someone’s thoughtless joke because what we’ve been working so hard to build is beginning – ever so slightly – to lean.
Some of us are the architects of amazing and wonderful ideas and plans that seem to take on a failed life of their own every time we roll up our sleeves and go to work.
Some of us honestly don’t Want What We’ve Got because what we had pictured in our heads isn’t even close to what’s playing out in front of our eyes.
We’re disappointed. We’re embarrassed. We’re malfunctioning. We’ve failed.
From where we are standing, everything we’ve ever dreamed of is leaning 3.97 degrees off-center and the best we can do is throw some lead on the other side in an attempt to keep the whole thing from crashing to the ground. If we didn’t know better, we would be people without hope, blind and bitter about our inability to predict whether the work of our hands will stand or fall or lean…
“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16 (KJV)
The good news is that while we cannot see what happens next, God can! Where there is uncertainty, God will navigate! Where there is darkness and confusion, God will illuminate! Where things are crooked and leaning, God will set them straight! Where there is hopelessness, God will not forsake!
Who’s to say that your current structural failure cannot be redeemed? Just look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Want What You’ve Got!
Daily Questions: Where has your life failed to live up to your plans? Are there adjustments required? Can you finish this job on your own, or do you need to call in a team of experts to help you finish well? Have you considered that God may have His own plan for the work of your hands? Are you willing to let Him decide whether to right the tower or make a monument out of your mistakes?