I recently spent a few weeks dodging construction workers coming to our house to work on my parents’ new kitchen. The old kitchen was small, and my dad has long wanted an upgrade. And now it’s happened!
During this same time, I also participated in a women’s Bible study on Ephesians 6:10-19. The basic message of the study was that, when we become Christians, God gives us everything we need to face the daily challenges of living a God-glorifying life. We often feel like we have to supply everything ourselves. But in fact, we already possess it – we just need to acknowledge it and allow God to work in us.
In other words, when we put God in charge of our lives, He brings out the qualities in us that He wants to see. He transforms us from fearful, confused, discouraged, chaotic, or self-hating individuals to people who base their actions on a firm sense of their identity as beloved children of God in Christ.
Or, to put it another way, He remodels us into masterpieces.
Maybe you aren’t feeling much like a masterpiece right now. But that’s okay. Because, as most homeowners start to realize once their project begins, a renovation-in-progress looks very different from the end product.
One of the first things my family realized about remodeling was: It’s messy. Chaotic. Disruptive. Even a little ugly (at first).
For starters, there’s the boxes. Boxes everywhere. In the living room, the computer room, the bedrooms. On chairs, atop bookcases, in the floor. It looked like we were moving, or had just arrived.
Then there’s the upheaval of furniture and floor plans. The normal order of things – even in rooms not being worked on – was disrupted. Filing cabinets went in the living room. The stove and laundry machine went on the front porch. My desk went in the foyer.
And then there’s the chaos of the construction itself. The hammering of roofers, the ripping of floorboards, the stench of glue…. Some days the best (or only) possible response was to escape to a bedroom and close the door.
Similarly, lives under divine construction can get very messy, despite the beauty of the end result. Our quest for a closer relationship with God can lead through the darkness of doubt and fear. Our attempts to better serve others can run up against forces of insecurity or conflict.
For example, when I started studying my faith academically in college, I was challenged to be able to explain why I believe what I believe. I began to scrutinize my own belief system, taking it apart to test its strength and clarity and to better understand how my beliefs fit together.
The process was not comfortable or pretty. I often felt like I had disappointed God by not having better-structured beliefs about Him. I worried about shaking other people’s faith by sharing my questions, or having my doubts dismissed.
Yet the primary lesson I learned from all that soul-searching was this: That God’s love isn’t dependent on how “in order” we are. In fact, we should expect messiness when we set out to follow Him, because we’re imperfect people living in a broken world.
Our hope isn’t in our ability to solve or fix things. It’s in God’s love and competence in caring for, guiding, and transforming us.
He’s there for us when we’re still a mess. He’s there during cleanup. He’ll be there when the cleanup is over.
It Takes Time
Planning a reno takes time. Actually performing it takes longer. We may have our vision now, but its reality is likely slower in coming.
Our new floor plan was drawn up in weeks. The remodeling itself has taken months. Long, agonizing, sometimes frustrating months.
Supplies had to be ordered. Workers had to be coordinated. Inspections had to be made.
Personal changes take time, too. Old attitudes and habits have to be replaced (often repeatedly). New ones have to settle in and grow. When change involves external factors like health, career, or ministry, we may have to push for a long time to see results or opportunity.
And sometimes – like Abraham the patriarch and other members of the “Hall of Faith” – we have to wait beyond this life for the end product of our metamorphosis. Such is the case with the biggest remodeling project of our lives.
This can be very frustrating for us. But our Master Builder is a master of patience. He was around before time began, and has been working on this world and its inhabitants ever since He brought it into existence. Just as He is working to renew His creation as a whole, He is working in each of us to make us more like Christ. He displays the same patience and mastery in our individual lives that He has put into history and the future of the world. Always with the same goal: To restore perfect harmony between creation and Creator through Christ.
We can make it through the mess. We can make it through the wait. Because we know that God is working on us. We know He has a plan and a vision for us.
We may not always see Him working or understand why He chooses the tools He does. We may not always be sure what He wants us to do or what details He has mind for us as individuals.
But we know we are meant to model the character of Jesus Christ. To apply His teachings to our lives. To be “little Christs” in the circumstances we’re given. And we know that God’s Spirit gives us the power, discernment, and everything else we will ever need to do that.
So let God be your builder – and celebrate what He’s doing every step of the way.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
–Philippians 1:6 (NIV)