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 The furnace was severely outdated, and the landlord had been repeatedly repairing it to avoid having to replace it.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.
Although it may have felt at times like they were lost or wandering, the Israelites were being led by God the whole time. It was an essential time of preparation for the future God had in store for them, and it was worth the wait. As my own story of being led unfolded, we eventually sold the house. Even that was not void of some challenges. First, there was a sale that fell through. Then a zoning issue threatened to cost us more money. Next, we moved out of the house, only to move back in.
As we endured the time of challenges and waiting, we felt desperate to move forward. We began to question if we had made the right decision to take on the project.
Although the experience was painful and deeply discouraging, I learned that it was a time of preparation for God's future for me. Even when it felt messy, complicated, and beyond my ability to handle, God was leading me toward healing, restoration, and a deeper level of trust.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT The trust in which God calls me requires a lot of courage on my part. This is especially evident knowing that my fears and tendencies often lead me astray.
What does spiritual bravery look like in your current season of life? Is there an unwanted situation that you are having difficulty understanding? Is trusting in God's provision and timing a challenge for you?
God cares deeply for us and knows what we need before we even ask. Perhaps bravery looks like surrendering the need to have all of the answers (we never do anyway). Or the ability to understand that things happen the way they do, and are almost always an opportunity for growth.
I invite you to spend some time considering where you need courage from God in your day to day life. Then offer up a prayer asking God to lead and guide you, giving you the strength you need to move forward.
PRAYER: Father, thank You for Your presence in my life, and for leading me. Remind my heart of Your message in scripture,"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NIV) Help me to step forward boldly and bravely knowing that You can be trusted. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
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