God is a renovation expert?
Last year, right before we turned over into the “exciting new decade” (or, from another vantage point, “the year of what-in-the-world-is-happening”), I faced some very challenging circumstances in my personal life. I felt like everything around me was falling apart, and I sat crying out to God. He spoke a clear message to me at that time, right when the new year/new decade was turning over. He said, “I am a God who rebuilds. I will guide you on the path of deconstructing your life to rebuild the beautiful life I have planned for you.” It was such a clear message from Him at a time when I truly felt like things were falling into rubble around my feet. I was inspired and found myself determined to lean on Him for the right path toward a new life.
The next months were a true “deconstruction” of many things in my life. The whole country saw a lot of deconstruction of what we had known as “normal, daily life” over the last year. Wow, did we ever. For me, the rebuilding has been hard so far - lots of unknowns, new hurdles, and often no quick improvement in sight. This is brick-by-brick and tedious rebuilding. But I have seen God in every single little brick of new life that has been laid. In the Old Testament, the Hebrews needed reassurance after all of the devastations they had experienced. God promised, “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Isaiah 61:4
Restoration in the Bible is synonymous with healing, repairing, returning to a previous state of being. Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” He can uphold me on those questionable days and provide me with a willing spirit, even when I am not “feeling it”. He can show me new ways to rebuild and renew that I never could have imagined. He can repair the broken parts of my life.
I think one of God's greatest promises is to make “a new thing”. In Isaiah 43:19, He says, “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” His promise includes dealing with a wilderness and a wasteland to get to the new thing - ugh.
Let’s fast forward to October 2020, when we sold our home of twenty years in a matter of twelve hours! We were suddenly homeless with no definitive plan in sight. We knew we were ready for a move - ready to downsize, relocate to a new state, ready for a fresh new perspective. We began house hunting, taking weekly trips to Pennsylvania, exploring communities, neighborhoods, dreaming about where we would end up. Weeks turned into months, and house offer after house offer fell through....what were we going to do?!?!
There was a point in our journey that we bought land and we’re going to build our dream log cabin. One day I heard the song, “Pioneers”, by For King and Country. The words say, “Let’s be pioneers and we’ll build our home, in the great unknown, yeah, let’s be pioneers.” We decided that could be our theme song in the building of our log cabin in the woods in a new place. That is, until that plan fell through, hard and fast. We kept praying, “God, close the doors that aren’t right for us. Please make it clear when we have found the home that You have for us.” Lots and lots of doors closed....over and over. We were beginning to worry we’d need to rent an extended-stay hotel with our sixty-pound dog because we couldn’t find a rental either.
The new year turned over - it was now January 2021, and still no plan for our new home.
We had closed on our former home and were staying with family and friends for the interim. We kept searching and praying. Then one day, John found a home online that was in the neighborhood that seemed perfect for us (we had previously made two failed offers in the same neighborhood). The photos of the homemade it look disastrous. But we were at the point where we just needed to have a look...we walked into this old, run-down 1975 home, and it was so crazy, we looked at each other and said, “this is the one!” Seriously, this house had green-grass carpet everywhere (that I’m sure had been there forty years, eewww), a gold oven, and even one of those Formica tables sitting in the kitchen. But it also had great potential and a lot of the things we had been looking for in a home (that needed some improvements). On the car ride home our minds were spinning...could we handle a major renovation project? Were we crazy to consider this idea? Was this right, or were we just desperate?! We didn’t know, but we prayed and decided to trust God with the results!!
Suddenly I remembered the theme he gave me back in December of 2019....that I needed to walk into a deconstruction of familiar things to allow Him to rebuild a new and better life! So now the home situation was LITERALLY going to be just this exact process! He teaches us to follow Him in so many ways!!
We are now in the middle of “demo”! It's not nearly as fun or as quick as it seems on the DIY shows! It is hard, sweaty, grimy, and daunting work! But knowing God brought us to this point, with a promise of reconstruction, beauty from ashes, we are honored and humbled by this opportunity to learn new things and take the risk of trusting Him with the results! And I am just awed by His way of demonstrating the reconstruction/renovation process of my life through this real-life example!! His process of changing our lives is often sweaty and daunting work, but His finished product is far better than anything we could ever build on our own.
“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” Isaiah 9:10 He is rebuilding a beautiful thing of my life. Even on the days when it hurts or is hard, I see Him working. I pray that this story inspires you to see whatever is daunting or doubt-producing in your life as an opportunity to trust God with the rebuilding.....He is an expert carpenter!!