This post is part of a 11 week blog series that highlights the many ways we worship the triune God.
Peter is one of those rare people who from a young age had a dream of what he wanted to be when he was older and actually achieved it. He became an architect. When I asked where it all started, he said it plainly: “Drawing and lego.” Drawing and lego turned into detailed sketches, which turned into complex blueprints, which turned into scale models. Now Peter finds himself as one of the partners at Iredale Group Architecture, an Architecture firm in Gastown which is responsible for designing buildings like the Squamish Adventure Centre, Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver, the Surrey Museum, and many more which can be found here.
As I talked to Peter it was clear that even though there’s not another Christian who works at his firm, his office is a place of worship. Whether he’s relying on God to get him through an overwhelming string of meetings, or using his God-given talent to design a new community centre or school, Peter’s identity as a child of God shapes the way he works.
AMAZED BY THE CREATOR
Peter is amazed by the work of the Creator. His experience as a designer gives him a particular awe of the One who designed the world and the intricacies in it. From the ocean to the mountains - knowing how complex designing the simplest thing is, he just can’t wrap his mind around how all of this could end up here by accident.
For an example, Peter picks up a generic white coffee cup. He explains how there is so much thought that goes into designing something as simple as a coffee cup. Now, imagine designing a building with a very basic design. “I know how much thought goes into creating buildings that are really simple, clean and elegant. There’s a tonne of thought that goes into that. Now, do you have any idea how complex this world is?” Every day as Peter is designing is confronted by the fact that this world is incredibly elaborate and that it must have a magnificent Creator.
And yet,Peter understands creation is not yet as it should be. “I admire [God’s] work so much now, and yet I recognize that it’s broken by sin and this is a pale imitation of what it is to come. I get really stoked on the idea that this will be reclaimed and we will be able to experience it in its fullness, the way it was meant to be. That just fires me up!”
ARCHITECTS IN HEAVEN
Peter really can’t wait for heaven. He jokes that his zealousness for the life to come has produced some worried remarks from his wife and children. But he’s assured them that it’s just excitement. He’s excited about using the gifts that God has given him in the new heaven and new earth.
“I don’t think we’ll be just sitting around in heaven,” Peter says, “I think we’ll actually be doing stuff. We’ll be physically working and maybe even designing stuff - who knows? But I think that the gifts we’ve been given here are not simply random, I think that there’s purpose behind them.”
A few years ago, Peter went on a trip to Guatemala with Engineering Ministries International. This group of Christian engineers designed and built orphanages in the daytime and sang together and worshipped God in the evening. “I feel like we got this precursor to what heaven is going to be like. Like we’re all working together toward one common goal and then we’re getting together and singing at the end of the night and worshipping and reading the Bible and then we’re doing the actual stuff that we do for our job at home. There’s no blurry line between [work and worship], it’s all one.”
Peter admits that it can be a struggle to worship at work. There are so many tasks and stresses that can distract us from God. But in that new perfect earth there won’t be any difference between work and worship. They’ll be one.
WORSHIPPING WHEN WORK IS HARD
Even though Peter has always wanted to be an architect and loves his work, he doesn’t see it as a simple career. Many pressures come with being an architect that make some days difficult.
“If it’s a $2 million job there’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of people who are protecting their own interests, who don’t necessarily have the best interests of the project at heart.” Pressures like this often place a thorn of anxiety and nervousness in Peter’s side, one that many of us can relate to when it comes to pressure at work. Yet, Peter understands that this thorn of anxiety has been placed there to keep him running back to God. “Perhaps that’s by His grace that He’s given me this, to keep me running back to Him every morning. Like God’s saying, ‘You’re in over your head, but that’s okay because I’m going with you.’”
Possibly the most important lesson that Peter has learnt through his work is the necessity of running to God through all of life’s hardship. He learnt this especially when his wife, Twyla, was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in October 2013.
“[God] totally carried me through what should’ve been on a scale of 1 to 10 stress-wise an 11, and it felt like a 7. The more we were in the thick of it, the more I felt like God was carrying us.” In a time where it made more sense for him to be mad at God, Peter was able to share “peace beyond understanding” with his co-workers and support his wife all through the strength that God provided. To hear more about Twyla’s story, watch Peter and Twyla’s testimony here.
Through coping with Twyla’s cancer and facing other pressures at work, Peter explains that God has taught him how to worship in his workplace even when it didn’t make sense to do so.
Peter summed it up perfectly when he said, “As screwy as this world is, there’s a God who’s in control and he totally digs us.”
Through his work, Peter has learnt to admire the intricacies of creation, and he’s learnt to live longingly for the age to come; but he’s also learnt to rely on God’s sovereign goodness to get him through his work, when life and work become overwhelming.
Thom Peters attends Westside's downtown Vancouver campus where he and his wife serve as youth leaders.