Updated: May 28, 2020
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 with little interest for an extended period of time. 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, and they were no longer there to greet us. They had both passed away in recent years. 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, and it went something like this: Our dog had gotten sick a few times over the previous two days. Looking back this was a clue that something was amiss, and we were unaware of it at the time. Thankfully, our furnace stopped working the night before, and 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 The furnace was severely outdated and had been repeatedly repaired to avoid having to replace it. So, 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 on a walk. I became aware that more rebuilding was taking place than just in the house. The realization came that 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 so that God could work on healing and rebuilding me. The time allowed God to prepare me for the season 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 four hundred and thirty 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. He 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 He had in store for them, and it was worth the wait. As my own story of being led would unfold, we eventually sold the house after some challenges. There was a sale that fell through; a zoning issue that threatened to cost more money; a move out of the house and then back in. In the waiting, we felt desperate to move forward and 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, especially 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 do. Perhaps bravery looks like surrendering the need to have all of the answers (we never do anyway), and the ability to understand why things happen the way they do. Spend some time considering where in your life you need courage from God.
PRAYER: Father, thank you for your presence in my life, and for leading me. Remind my heart of your message in scripture to "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.
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