One of our outings last week took us to Bruges, Belgium. It’s a beautiful city, and definitely worth a visit!
We meandered through quaint city streets and along a lovely canal, then almost passed by an interesting courtyard. Since it was open, we strolled in, and discovered the House of the Lords of Gruuthuse (which is now a museum of applied arts).
The original building on this property was used for storing gruit, a mixture of herbs used for flavoring beer before hops became popular. The family became wealthy through the tax they were allowed to collect on almost all imported or locally brewed beer.
Louis of Gruuthuse (House of Gruit) became quite famous and well-connected, serving both Dukes Philip the Good and Charles the Bold, as well as Charles’ daughter, Duchess Mary of Burgundy. He added the main part of the palace you see in the photo above.
Next door to the Gruuthuse Museum stands the Church of Our Lady, built in the late 13th century, with additions added through the 14th and 15th centuries. One of those additions was built by our friend Louis . . . as part of his house!
Louis had a chapel constructed in 1472 joining his house to the choir of the church. He didn’t need to leave home to attend mass, he could just walk down the hall! Visit Musea Brugge for a picture of the inside of his chapel. The “outside” view is quite ornate, displaying to the common folk sitting down below his prominent place in society.
Looking through the windows of his chapel, Louis would have been able to see a beautiful scene on the church’s ceiling, newly painted in 1469. Here’s a closer view:
Lovely. At least I’m sure it was back in 1469. It was re-discovered in 2007 hiding under several layers of thin plaster, and had to be painstakingly uncovered. That process was completed in 2014. Louis’s chapel itself required restoration, which was funded in 2016.
I wonder how long the artist thought his painting would grace the ceiling. We don’t know anything about him, other than the fact that he lived in 1469, and painted this ceiling when Christopher Columbus was 18 years old. We know a bit more about Louis of Gruuthuse, but only because his social standing at the time found him a place in the local history annals.
Each man made his mark in a different manner. We may know more about Louis, but we don’t know him any more than we know the artist whose painting was covered over and forgotten for who knows how long.
What are you doing with your life right now that you think will outlast you here on earth? Whatever it is and no matter how long it endures after you die, who you really are will only be remembered until those who know you have all passed away. At that point, you’ll just be another name in the family ancestry list (or history books if you’ve “made it”).
But there are things of much more worth than being remembered here on earth. One day we will stand before our Creator, and give an account of all that we’ve done. That is the day our work will receive a true valuation!
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NLT).
Wood, hay and straw don’t cost the builder as much as gold, silver, or jewels. Paul isn’t writing about actual physical building materials here, he’s writing about a spiritual truth. Are we willing to put ourselves aside, and make sacrifices for the Kingdom of God? What he has given us is not ours, anyway. We are only managers of “our” resources, which really belong to him. When we stand before him, he will ask us how we’ve used what he’s put into our care (see the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25). I want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21) Don’t you want the same?
What resources could we use to build his kingdom?
- Time spent serving others, sharing God’s love, reading his Word, praying and listening for his leading . . .
- Talents used not for our own elevation, but used to build up others’ faith and hope . . .
- Treasure given to support those working to spread the good news of Christ or given to share with those in need. Treasure isn’t necessarily limited to money; it could also involve providing clothing or food, a place to stay, or even a place at your table. What do you have that you can share?
I love the song Only Jesus by Casting Crowns. Check it out!
What are you living for? Make it really count!