The Ice Hotel, and a Word About Ambition

This is the Hôtel de Glace in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Canada:

“Comprised of 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice, the Hôtel de Glace is a massive undertaking yet, each spring it completely disappears.

With only a four-month lifespan, the Ice Hotel takes a month and a half and 60 full-time workers to finish its rooms, but the result is a spectacular blend of chilly, natural architecture and ambient pastel light. Altogether, the hotel features 85 bedrooms, along with a club, art gallery, and even a chapel that usually hosts a handful of weddings.

Every inch of the hotel is created out of ice, including the furniture. To make the rooms more livable, beds are covered with furs, blankets and sleeping bags tested to arctic temperatures. The only areas of the hotel that are heated, are a few outdoor bathrooms, along with a few outdoor hot tubs to add to the experience.

Considered an example of a pure ice structure, the hotel is not supported by anything except the icy walls, which can be as thick as four feet to insulate the hotel. Although you might not get four-star service, the Hôtel de Glace is certainly a unique experience, as it changes in layout and complexity every year.”

Impressive, isn’t it? Maybe a little sad, too? I mean, it must be an incredible feeling to know that something you work so hard on, day in and day out, has such a limited life span. That there will come a point when it will simply melt into nothing, and then you start over again.

I would imagine that such a thought could either destroy you, or empower you. It either makes you not want to build anything, or it makes you want to build something amazing. Such is the case with everything that you and I will spend our time this week building.

Most everything we are building right now is eventually going to burn. Riches will be spent; homes will decay; bank accounts will dry up. They will melt under the heat of time and pressure. At some level we know this to be true, that we are at best building castles made of ice, and summer is coming. The question is what we will do with that knowledge.

I suppose there are one of two options. Option 1 would be not to build anything at all. You recognize the temporary nature of the stuff you put your hands to and decide that it’s simply not worth it. We might spiritualize this kind of thinking, and in doing so we wouldn’t be entirely wrong. We do know that moth and rust destroy, but as Jesus told us, that knowledge doesn’t mean that we simply sit around. The exhortation in Matthew 6 is NOT to stop storing up; it’s to make sure you are storing up the right things. That leads to option number 2.

In light of the temporary nature of stuff, built with all your might, but as you do, recognize the greater purpose in your building. Be ambitious, but do so with the end in mind. Realize that though the city, the government, the company, or the industry might sign your paycheck, you work as if you are working unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24). That means you’re not just building a building; you are exercising the creativity given to you by God. You aren’t just showing up in a classroom; you are learning to be put to use in the kingdom. You aren’t just closing a deal to make money; you are providing a service that helps care for the common good.

When you have that perspective, then the tears won’t come along with the summer sunshine. Instead, you’ll be grateful for what you have done for you recognized that though the earthly structure may fade, you are building something bigger and better that won’t. This is ambition rightly placed, in service to the work of the Lord.

Subscribe to

Never miss a new post. Subscribe to receive these posts in your inbox and to receive information about new discipleship resources.

You have successfully subscribed. Click here to download your bonus.