Ok. Here we go again. Another major building project. We bought a 200 year old house many years ago. We had hoped the work would be done by now, but it’s taken longer than expected. Sometimes we have to wait on finances, or bank loans; sometimes we have to wait for vacation time, or cooperating weather. It feels like we’re always waiting on something. However, room by room, year by year, slowly, but surely work gets done.
Yesterday was spent emptying the room of interest and stripping the walls, in other words-demolition. Although awful to most people, to me, it’s beautiful, because it’s being prepared.
For 14 years I have looked at old, naked, horse hair walls with long cracks and yellow stains. I’ve resented browning layers of thick antique wallpaper, crumbling plaster and holes. It’s not pretty. It’s not pleasing to the eye, to say the least. But these are sheltering walls so I only complain a little. Though the room is months away from being completed, I know the sole focus of every working moment will be this room. It has the builder’s full attention, and I’m happy for it. There is little else I would rather see and do then watch my husband work at making old things new.
I trust my husband so completely, that when I peek in at his progress, I actually see it as it will be, not as it is – and, it’s closer today, after being stripped and gutted and exposed, than it was last week-covered in all that old flesh. It’s fabulously riveting to watch the process of nothing great, becoming something of supreme value. The wiring and the lights ,the walls and the paint, the sanding of the floor, the finishing touches and most of all the newness of it all. when finished, It feels almost holy. On that final day, when we stand side by side, gazing at it with pride and satisfaction all I want to do is celebrate and exhale, inviting everyone I know to see our home.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m God house, and so are you. He works on us and in us, while he’s taking up residence. its where the work get done. He doesn’t have a magic wand that he waves over us at baptism making us new. God is not that removed. When, by grace, we decide to let him move in, he gets to work. He is personal and he takes his time and does it right.
I admit some of us need more work than others. Some just need a little paint and a good cleaning, while others need their foundation rebuilt, that’s me. And that was a project we did a few years ago, it was a big huge deal. i learned, the more extensive the work, the more you appreciate it’s completion. Like Jesus said, the one who is forgiven more, loves more. the more work God does on you, the more you trust God to do it again and again whenever, wherever and however.
God has showed me through many years of working on our old house that he works on one room at a time. He can be trusted. The more rooms he completes the more we trust him for the next project. He inhabits us, therefore, he knows what needs to get done next. If we let him he comes in with a wrecking ball.
First he empties us. This is a perhaps the toughest stage every time for me. It’s the closure of one time period, one reality I have known and accepted. The space I knew as my “office” had to go, I had to release it. The security, that comes simply from familiarity, not necessarily true satisfaction, is hard to let go of.
When God empties us to prepare for his work; everyone and everything in our life that was familiar and safe seem to vanish, and we feel alone, empty, naked void of life, light and beauty. Sometimes its our gifts or our work, bad habits or access to money, sometimes it’s a relationship. He has to do it. He has to clear the room. this gives him space and spares the contents from ruin. He saves things whats useful , discards the useless.
The demolition is painful, dirty, dusty, even dangerous because who knows what’s in those walls. Hal has to wear protection, masks, and gloves, and goggles. He seals the room off completely, to keep the mess contained. Talk about isolation. Do you ever feel like it’s just you and God and a sledge hammer? It’s loud. There is pounding, and ripping, pulling out nails, and stripping and a lot of trips to the dump. He has to gather all the old wall stuff, which lies around his feet like a sea of plaster -at least a foot deep. He shovels it up and fills bag after bag- then he carries them away, far away.
He works because he has a vision, and a hope for the room. The demolition part is like the purging of sins, old flesh and the old man. God strips it all away with his powerful hands. He wants to get rid of it, it does not serve his purposes or please his heart. He takes it away.
The room is ready to be done. Its open, it’s light, airy and covered with potential.
There are many rooms in our lives, in our hearts and in ourselves, which God hasn’t renovated yet, and some he has. He lives in us, and because he lives in us, He plans on making us his house, and the best space he can, a beautiful new space.
It’s hard when he primes an area, it can be painful and vulnerable and even feel hopeless, but the more he works in our lives the more we trust him because we see the handiwork he does and it is good.
Little by little, room by room, he works his good pleasure. Little by little, room by room we are being made into the likeness of his Son, whose blood he purchased us with. He slowly tears us apart to build us up.
If my husband was a full time carpenter, I guarantee we’d have some neighbors looking for his number because his finished work really is a masterpiece. Maybe that’s why God chooses the broken houses to live in.
He doesn’t see us as we are, he sees us as we will be.
So hang in there if things are tough, you probably have his undivided attention, and the waiting is over.
“Don’t you know that you are God’s cultivated land, God’s building… and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:9 &16