Challenging Thought for Today: By wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24: 3-4.
“Do you have the guts to take on a fixer-upper?” Joanna Gaines (no relation) asks this question in the introduction to the hit HGTV show co-hosted with her husband Chip. After their introduction in each episode, Chip Gaines says they take the worst house in the best neighborhood and make it into their client’s dream home.
One thing I have learned from my HGTV fetish is that no matter how bad a house looks on the outside or even on the inside, it is rarely un-salvageable. If the foundation is still good and it’s structurally sound, it’s considered to have “good bones.” In that case, the value of the home does not lie in the appraisal of its present condition but in its potential for restoration.
I often think of this “fixer-upper” concept in light of 1 Samuel 16:7b …for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Just as a contractor sees past broken windows, damaged walls and cracked foundations to the real potential of a home, I am so glad that Jesus sees past our crushed spirits, dashed hopes and deteriorated dreams to the wonderful temple that we were created to be.
The Full Life Study Bible commentary on the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 states that the vision was given to assure the exiled Israelites that they would be “restored by God’s power and again become a living community, in spite of their seemingly hopeless circumstances.” Israel would not only be restored physically, but spiritually. After the physical restoration, they would be infused with breadth of life through the Holy Spirit. (p.1230)
This is a wonderful example because the actual bones referred to here had no flesh, marrow, or sinew. They were just dry, brittle bones. However, at God’s command, they were restored, given new flesh, new breath of life and were as powerful as a mighty army.
During an episode of Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna referred to one dwelling as the “Three Little Pigs” house. It was in such bad shape that it looked like a strong wind would just blow it over. Have you ever been there? Teetering on the verge of collapse? Afraid that one more demanding phone call, one more hurtful, thoughtless word from a friend or coworker, or one more rejection from a loved one, just might send you toppling over. I know I have. I imagine most other people have also. You may even be there now.
Know this. You are not alone. Many of us know what it feels like to live in fear of what will happen if we are forced to start over from scratch… again. Maybe the thing to remember is that you don’t really have to start from scratch. Even when a fixer upper is stripped down to the studs, the foundation is left intact. Damages and cracks are repaired. A solid foundation is key and it’s the strongest, most important part of the house. Remember, Matthew 25:24 – 27 admonishes us to build our homes upon the solid rock of Jesus. So that when (not if) the storms come and life’s winds and rains leave you damaged or dilapidated, you will be able to stand.
I am reminded of a particular moment when I felt pulled in many directions, disappointed at the path my life “seemed” to be taking, and just emotionally exhausted from carrying the weight of it all. I literally collapsed on the bed and said, “Lord, give me strength.” My spirit immediately received Nehemiah 8:10 b…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. At that moment, I knew God was showing me that I would always have the strength I needed as long as I didn’t lose my joy.
Granted, there are still times I feel emotionally drained and pulled in many directions, but I always go back to what I call the “bones” of my spiritual foundation : complete faith, hope and trust in the word of God.
One hymn writer took it a step further, “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t throw in a word of caution here. Dream homes don’t magically appear out of the rubble of the old one. It takes months of hard work of the contractor, carpenters, structural engineers, decorators, and owners. There is a high price to pay to restore a home to its former grandeur and add new life and character. Likewise, scripture reminds us that faith without works is dead.
Here’s the good news. Our savior has already paid the price and the only work required of you in this restoration is to trust and believe in his ability to save and keep you. It is not too late.
What shape is the natural and/or spiritual foundation of your “house” in today? What is it leaning on? What are you holding onto that is damaging your relationship with the God? Are you digging through the ashes of an empty burned out shell, holding onto broken promises from untrustworthy people when God is prompting you to give him those fragments and allow him to make something beautiful.
Do you have the guts to let today be the first day of residence in your “new house”? Why not tear down the walls of protection you have built around your heart and open it up to Jesus. Let him create a clean heart. Strip away old doubts and fears and replace them with faith and hope. Trust God with the foundation of your soul and it won’t matter if the physical location of your natural home is in the worst neighborhood or the most desirable area of town, because you will be standing on solid spiritual ground.