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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making The Old New Again

A friend of mine is in the process of purchasing a 100-year-old house. This thing has three stories and eight bedrooms, and eventually will have something I've always wanted--a gazebo. She sent photos showing the intricate woodwork, unique window casements, and quaint claw-foot bathtubs. There is even a "maid's room" that she has already claimed as her office. My friend has picked out wallpaper and paint colors, and has planned renovations and restorations that will enhance the historical ambiance of this century-old treasure. Making the old new again, but clinging to the history.

What if we treasured the things we learned over the years the way we value antique architecture? When we see a wonderful work of craftsmanship tooled into a house, we admire not only its beauty, but also the skill of the carpenter. Aren't the nuggets of wisdom and experience taught by God's patient hand worthy of praise? These lessons aren't easily caught. Many times God has to carve them into our being, like a craftsman honing a piece of art. God's masterpiece is the life and heart of a servant designed and reclaimed for His glory. Much like my friend's 100-year-old house.

She excitedly emailed her friends and family with pictures of the place, but included descriptions of what needed to be torn out, rebuilt, added on, and changed to make the house what she and her husband want it to be. There are plumbing problems and missing trim work, and the layout of some of the rooms needs to be altered. But the planned repairs and renovations have not dampened her enthusiasm. She is looking forward to plunging into the work.

Along our Christian walk, we sometimes get side-tracked or lazy. Disappointments or wounded feelings can make us bitter, attitudes can become ascerbic or cynical. Disagreements can weight us down and hang baggage around our neck. Sometimes work is substituted for worship, with the inevitable burn-out to follow. We can find ourselves like my friend found this house: old, tired, in need of a loving hand to make the old new again. God desires the same thing for us. He sees the rust and the corrosion from years of wear, ugly attitudes or distractions we've used as excuses to justify straying from our first love--worship and praise offered to our Savior. But before we can return to that first love, God has some repairs and renovations to perform. He tears down the ugly, the worn out, and the ill-constructed additions we've installed. He uses the sandpaper of repentance to uncover the original work He did, then uses His mercy and grace to polish and refine what was once a masterpiece designed by His hand. But he also preserves those experiences we used in a wrong way.

This same friend who is buying the old house once told me that God never wastes a circumstance. God chisels those lessons we misused into the mantle of our lives, but He doesn't intend for us to hold on to the hurt or the inappropriate feelings. Once we give those things over to Him, he sculpts them into an art called wisdom. It would be a sad thing indeed to forget those things we've learned by experience, especially if we repeated the same mistakes. God never assumed we would go through life without making mistakes. His mercy and grace repairs and rennovates the time-worn places and makes them new again, ready to be used.

I hope I can have a small hand in helping my friend make her new, old house bloom into a gentle look over her shoulder into the past. It would be fun to find out who lived in the house and filled those walls with the joys and sorrows of their lives. But wouldn't it be even more precious to look back and see God's hand using the circumstances of out lives to carve His masterpiece?

Thanks for letting me share my heart.