“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
I’m a house flipper. That means I search for the ugliest homes in the best neighborhoods and turn them into something beautiful. I love doing it! Where others see mess, money and stress, I see possibilities, profit and what is possible.
My favorite two stages of this entire process are creating a new look for the house on paper, and then staging the completed project so it really comes to life. I’ll be honest – I always have moments of doubt and worry throughout each project. Will it look the way I think it will? Will someone else find it as beautiful as I do? Yet I think that’s why I like the final product the best. I can finally really see what was only in my head initially.
When people walk through my homes both before and after (or see the pictures), they are always blown away that it’s the same house. That’s how different it looks, how amazing the transformation truly is! If you watch those home renovation shows, you know just what I’m talking about.
I’m asked often why I love doing flips. In the answering, I’ve come to realize that changing something from broken to beautiful is sort of hard-wired into my DNA by Jesus. And I see crazy correlations between renovating a home and renovating a soul. Let me tell you – between the two, the Lord’s renovation of my soul and others is by far the most challenging and the most rewarding!
In the early days of my faith, my very first steps were simply acknowledging something I already knew deep within: that I am a broken, fallen human desperately in need of a Lord and Savior to rescue me from the wrecking ball of life. My experiences and decisions had led me to a place of darkness and despair, looking pretty on the outside but a hot mess within.
When I finally decided to hand the keys to my heart over to Jesus so He could move in and begin His mighty work in me, it was so freeing! For the first time, I began to experience hope. I gained a vision for a richer, better life than the one the world was selling.
Man, did God begin to knock down some walls! Addiction had begun to block me in, but faith destroyed its very foundations. Depression, well established within me, slowly but surely was dismantled, and replaced with something so incredible – the freedom to experience joy. Fears, inadequacies, long-held weaknesses, and long neglected strengths began to unwind, and either be removed or enhanced accordingly.
Unlike my house flips, however, God’s good work in me is still an ongoing process. With my houses, I get to see the final product quickly, usually within a few months. The transformation of my heart, my mind and my spirit has been Jesus’ loving labor over many decades. And just when I think something like doubt or fear have been completely removed from my life, my Creator reveals to me a whole new layer we need to tackle together.
What still amazes me about my deconstruction from unbeliever to Daughter of the King of the Universe is that this incredible, amazing being – my Creator—chooses to co-labor with me! Oh, sure, He gives me tasks, and sometimes sends me off to go do something. There have certainly been many a time I didn’t sense His presence in what was happening around me.
Yet when I finally sense His return, I realize once again that He was there all along. Watching and cheering for me from the wings as He waited to see how I would tackle this challenge on my own. I’ve come to anticipate and cherish these moments.
When the Holy Spirit’s presence returns, we discuss all that I’ve learned and how I’ve grown from the experience. I now know that even when I feel alone, I never truly am. Always, always my Creator is working for my good (Romans 8:28). His vision for me never wanes or fades.
How will I look both inside and out when the work is done? Honestly, I have no idea! I get amazing glimpses here and there, but only God completely knows what I’m being crafted into.
Not entirely knowing used to really bother me, honestly. As a recovering perfectionist, control used to be my middle name. Okay, maybe my first name (I feel ya, Janet Jackson!).
The advantage of time has taught me that whenever I try to take the keys to my heart back from Jesus, in an attempt to run my own life again, it is never as good as what God can do. He has blessed me with competency. I can get A LOT done on my own strength, more than many. But the difference between my level of ability and work and the Creators is almost laughable. It’s like I’m still insisting on finger painting when the greatest Artist in all of creation is standing right next to me, ready and willing to show me how to grow in my artistry. Because of that, I’ve learned to trust Him.
I now celebrate the good works in and around me as often as possible. I praise God for His masterful artistry as He ceaselessly deconstructs what is broken, and reconstructs beauty into soul after soul, including my own. I take His words to heart: “For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God” (1 Corinthians 13:12 VOICE).
In this life, I have but glimpses of my Creator’s vision for me. It’s hard to picture what I will actually look and be like in the end. But someday, when the grand reveal comes, I know I will be blown away!
It will be so much more glorious than the before and after of a home, the before and after of a soul! And I know that, “the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world” (Philippians 1:6 VOICE).
Truly, all His promises ARE yes and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Allowing your Creator to deconstruct and reconstruct who you are at your very core is an uphill battle. Anything worthwhile is. It’s hard to place the keys of your life in someone else’s hands, especially when you don’t fully understand the work that is being done through your circumstances and the people around you. Doubt, worry and fear can creep--or roar--into your life. Yet it is the most rewarding experience you will ever engage in.
Maybe you’re new in your faith without many transformative experiences under your belt to bolster your faith yet. Or you find yourself in a space where God seems very far away and you’re feeling lost and alone. These are usually the times when I’ve been most tempted to grab back the keys and go my own way, oftentimes to my own detriment.
In these times, there are two scriptures I’ve come to rely on:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge (submit to) Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
“For God has said, 'I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5c TLB).
The first reminds me that while I may not always get or understand what God is doing in my life, He has a plan. Always. He may not have willed what is happening to me, but He WILL certainly work through it with me. My Creator alone knows how to lead me down life’s path to reach the prize at the end—heaven. You and I can trust in Him.
The second verse reminds me that whether or not I feel God’s presence is secondary. The Bible says our emotions are fickle; unlike God, they can’t always be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9). Your Creator IS always there. Already moving on your behalf; already shifting people, places and experiences around to answer and grow you. That’s something we can trust in. Even when we don't yet understand why the answer is no.
Finally, no matter where you’re at in your building process, spend some time this week meditating on Romans 8:31-39. This is your promise in the Lord to hold onto, and it it good!
"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Father, you have been so very good to me! Even when I don’t see or feel your loving, provident hand moving on my behalf, you are there. Guiding. Working. Blessing. Growing. Stretching me into something beautiful and awesome to behold. I praise and thank you for the good work you have begun in me. I long for the day when it will be brought to its completion, and I shall see you face to face. May my awareness of your Presence in my life grow. Help me to keep the keys to my life and my heart firmly in your vastly capable hands. May I grasp, along with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep is your precious love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury or to invite her to speak at your next event, CLICK HERE.
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