“Imagine yourself a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominable and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. ” C.S. Lewis
I ran across this quote some months ago, but in recent days it has taken up residence in my heart. For some reason, it got me to thinking about my childhood. For those of you who don’t know I grew up in a DIY kind of home. Why buy it when you can make it, fix it, or create it! I can not remember a time when there was not some kind of project going on in our house. My parents purchased a “fixer upper” kind of home when I was a very little girl and since that day my Mother and Father have not stopped dreaming up the kind of beautiful improvements you only see on HGTV, making it their goal to have these dreams become reality. Slowly but surely they started the transformation process, and as you can imagine, a home built in the early 1900’s made for many many dreams. Now because of budget and time restraints this was a one room at a time kind of deal. So each year things would change. Sometimes these changes were as small as the painting of walls, but other times the projects entailed ripping out walls- taking a room to the studs and starting completely new and fresh! On the rare occasion rooms were even swapped- For example a bathroom becoming a pantry to increase efficiency and help improve the layout of the home. My mother and father really should have been contractors or home renovators because each result ended up more beautiful than you could imagine. And even though I could not always see the end result, somewhere in their minds was a beautiful transformation that they knew would be worth all the work, time, and energy spent.
If I look at the love and care my Mother and Father put into making our house a beautiful home and I then look at this words of C.S Lewis, I can not deny the kind of work God is trying to do in my life. In the lives of each and every person who loves Him and has chosen to serve Him. I started out as a shabby, rundown house to be sure. Before each of us knew Christ our lives were broken and empty, with little hope for change. And suddenly all this changes! We find God who promises to take up residence in lives. The God of the universe taking up residence in my little broken down shack is shocking to say the least, but He moves their willingly and with a very specific purpose. He tells me upfront He is going to make some changes, in fact He has a grand vision for all the transformations that will take place! Now, there tends to be an assumption in my own heart, and maybe yours as well, that God will come into our lives and fix them up, but in ways that are comfortable and easy for me. Changes that make sense! Maybe slap a coat of paint on the walls to brighten the room- maybe people wont notice the cracks running all along the sheetrock! Hang a picture on that wall- that will surely cover that huge hole sin has left there! We assume patch work is all that is necessary, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know that the damage sin has done in our lives has left much deeper damage than that. In some cases the house is barely standing.
And then enters God. He may have purchased the rattiest house of the block, but He would never leave it that way. He intends to take this old and often broken heart and not just shine it up, masking the real problem, but fix what is broken all the way down to the foundation! God spares no expense in the transformation of our hearts. He is willing to take our lives down to studs and foundation in order to mend what sin has broken. To say this isn’t sometimes painful would be a lie. To be exposed completely before a holy and perfect God can seem scary, even overwhelming, but it is also the only situation in which we can truly learn who God is shaping us to be. It is in the tearing down that we can begin to rebuild in a way that glorifies God. We can tear out that broken part of our soul and rebuild it with something that is whole and new, a piece of us that will now point to Jesus Christ as the agent of our change.
I often find that along this journey I can’t see what God sees. He keeps telling me that He has this beautiful vision of the “home” He is building! Large windows, high ceilings, maybe even a shiplap wall in there somewhere 🙂 But my vision tends to fail me when we get to the stud and foundation level of my transformation. I only see the hardship and difficulties ahead. Part of this is our human heads and hearts- I truly believe we are sometimes just unable to see what God has planned. There are far too many pieces at play: people, time, energy, etc….All of these being one piece in the transformation puzzle. Each piece necessary so that the big picture turns out perfectly- just as God intends it. The other part of my lack of vision can sometimes be my own will saying- “Man this hurts!” The enemy can try to convince me that my broken down, worn out house was just fine, and that I don’t need God to do any shaping or changing at all. That can lead to me telling God “No, no more!”, when I lose the perspective that all this work has purpose. I can question God’s vision, but once I have asked Him to start transforming me the work has already begun. He is knee-deep in muck, and loves us too much to leave us “undone”. God won’t abandon us in the midst of our shaping, no matter how much we kick and scream along the way. 🙂 So our reality is that we CAN NOT always understand God’s plan. But we CAN always trust God’s heart.
Each swing of the hammer, each nail pounded has an ultimate and divine purpose. God loves you deeply, and because of this love He refuses to leave you as you are. He sees all that you can become! I chose to see this as a comfort, though I know some would disagree. But this means God loves me enough to change me for the better! Every bit of construction serves a greater purpose, to make me a daughter that actually reflects His light just a little better. What an awesome purpose each bit of transformation has! Take comfort in this friends. Every single bit of our transformation has purpose. It may hurt. It may sting. But it leads to becoming the mansion on the hill, rather than the abandoned shack down the road. With each change we become more of who God is calling us to be!
So when God tells you He is trying to get rid of a dark, gloomy old room and replace it with one filled with light and hope – Trust Him! He is and always will be the man with the plan! Even when you can’t see the final product, even when you can’t begin to understand the direction He is headed, we know we serve a God who loves us completely and perfectly! As our Creator He knows us better than we even know ourselves. This ultimately means He knows where we can grow, and where a little bit of shaping will lead to a God glorifying result. My goal for the coming days is to be thankful for every wall torn down, every room changed, every bit of transformation God is providing, because I know that the heart behind each of these actions is to build a mansion. We are in the process of becoming radiant sons and daughters of Christ. A journey that leads to a result with more beauty and purpose than I could imagine. And in the process God will be faithful to provide me just enough grace for today….