Exposed & Condemned

There is nothing like a home renovation to increase the stress in your life. As home renovations go, I suppose the one going on in my life right now, isn’t a bad one. The kitchen makeover is nearly complete as my wife and I sit (im)patiently and wait for the contractors to get our new cabinets in. I am always both amazed and a little fearful when these things start. To see an entire 40-plus year old room gutted to the studs is remarkable. It also makes me wonder what lurks beneath the surface waiting to present itself. We’ve had some of those moments these last few weeks. A leaky pipe above and more seriously, an issue with the foundation of one wall caused by water damage. That one scared my wife because we are on a tight budget and she was sure it was going to cost us big. Fortunately, we have a guy that knows how to work well and does so without looking to suck a person’s wallet dry.

Still, seeing work done like this always makes me think a little deeper. We’ve had a bathroom done over and basement that needs redoing thanks to a flood, and when you start to peel away what’s there, you begin to expose not just the walls and studs that hold everything up, but what has been rotting away. You see more clearly that a renovation is not just bringing in new appliances and cabinets, but moving and replacing old water pipes, electrical wires and gas lines. It not only needs replacing because it’s old, but because in 40-plus years, the standards have been raised. It’s also finding things that you didn’t know was a problem like a crumbling wall. After all those things have been upgraded, replaced and fixed, then you put the walls back, the cabinets up and new appliances in place. It looks great on the outside and you’re so happy you could burst. But we have a greater assurance and peace not because of what we see, but because of what we know happened and is now hidden away where no one can see it.

Ok, maybe it’s a corny analogy, but it makes sense to me. When I think of those walls coming down and everything that’s been hidden behind them now being exposed? I think of myself and what lurks beneath my own surface. I think of how much I would hate to have all that exposed and at times, HAVE hated it. There have been times when I initiated a full scale renovation in my own life, allowing people to see right down to the studs. There was plenty of “faulty wiring”, “leaky pipes” and you can be sure my “foundation” was falling apart. It didn’t go well to say the least. To continue the analogy. I was given a home improvement book and deemed condemned by some. To be honest though, I guess I asked for the home improvement book and when I saw the condemned notice slapped on my front door, I quickly patched up the walls and covered over all the shoddy inner workings, instead of asking someone to come help and take a closer look.

I was going to say, “help with the repairs”, but the reality is that’s kind of what I got, and I needed something else. I needed to take a closer look, but not to see what I could fix myself or have friends repair, but to know I needed an expert in the field. This is what Christ does. He opens me up, exposes my decaying, worn, dead and dusty bones. But instead of fixing or repairing me, he gives me something else. He doesn’t renovate me, He switches houses with me. He hands me the keys and says, “This is your new home. Go live in it forever. It’ll never breakdown or wear out. None of the parts ever need replacing. The walls will never have to be torn down or repaired and the appliances will always work. In fact, the pantry and fridge will always be stocked. While you’re settling in there, I’ll be seeing to the demolition of your old decaying structure. Not only will I see to it, I’ll live in it and witness the destruction of it from the inside.”  

I told you it was a corny analogy. Still, if you’re following me, the new house is not about God giving you the desires of your heart as some form of prosperity gospel. This is about Christ being our ultimate shelter in salvation. We are given the righteousness of his perfectly lived life, while he takes the mess of our lives for himself. We just got an upgrade. A dream house. While he moved into an abandoned broken down tenement, slated for demolition. It’s one of the hardest things to grasp. Because we still sin under Christ at times, it’s almost as if we have this new house, but we’re still attached to the old one. In the mess that we still are, we think when we sin, we just introduced termites or rot to this perfect structure. We start checking the house for drafts and leaks. This house is bound to fall apart now that I live here. There must be something I can do to shore it up and keep it running at top efficiency.

We all want to add to perfection. We all have those moments. We look for ways to put our stamp on the salvation we’ve been given to let God know we deserve to live in this house. But we don’t. That’s the point. We deserve to be demolished. But we’re not, we are given an indestructible new living arrangement. One that is sure and unmovable, from every nail driven in to each cross beam, to its perfect foundation that was poured out from the very beginning of time. That is our hope.

We know what’s beneath the surface of our lives. Strip it all away, there is rot and decay and faulty wiring and it feels as if it’s just days away from collapsing in on itself. But, we don’t reside there anymore, even if we sometimes like to walk by it and take a quick peek inside and “remember it fondly”. We have a new dwelling place under the covering of Christ. A perfect place. A retreat made for rest and renewal. So no matter how often we live like we still reside in the old house, we always return to the covering of Christ and find rest and hope for the future, because this is where we truly live now.

Remember it, believe it and let it guide you past the old place more and more to find rest in the new.

Amen

(corniness concluded)   

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