Building Something New
It was never part of our plan to move into the house of stone in the quaint, little town. After all, it had been on the market for an extended period of time and with little interest. For my family, it was an empty shell that mirrored the grief we all felt each time we walked through the door.
The owners of the home had been my grandparents. Both had passed away in recent years. The heaviness I felt was because they were no longer there to greet us. I was still feeling the weight of the loss, and suspect I always would. Our move was an urgent one on New Year's day. It went something like this: Our dog had been getting sick over the previous two days. Looking back this was a clue that something was amiss, yet we were unaware of it at the time.
On New Year's Eve, when others were celebrating, our furnace stopped working. We soon learned that carbon monoxide had been leaking at a level higher than a CO detector could register. The furnace was severely outdated, and the landlord had been repeatedly repairing it to avoid having to replace it.
Thankfully, we landed in my grandparent's home with the unforeseen plan to renovate and sell the house. Not the New Year's start we had imagined.
On a warm spring day, four months into the project, I had a revelation while taking a walk. The realization came that rebuilding was taking place in more than just the house. There was also an inner renovation happening within my very being.
Beneath the outer landscape of my life, my heart was like the wreckage site I saw daily in my grandparent's house. A mix of so many beautiful memories entangled amid the demolition and dust. It wasn't until later that I realized how much I needed the construction in the house, and in myself.
It was important for me to return to a place that symbolized safety and nurturing. In that safe space, God could work on healing and rebuilding me. The time allowed God to prepare me for the seasons that lay ahead.
So often in my hastiness I forget that the in-between places are more necessary than I will ever fully know. As I consider my own construction time, I am reminded of the story in the Book of Exodus that shares about the in-between time endured by God's people. When the Israelites were delivered from captivity in Egypt after more than 340 oppressive years, they set out on what should have been an eleven-day journey to the place that God had promised. Instead, the journey ended up taking forty, painstaking years. Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV) says, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, 'If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.' So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea."
God could have guided the people by the shorter route but instead forced them to take the long way around. God knew if they faced challenges, they would likely turn back towards Egypt. While the experience as slaves was painful, it was also familiar.