Have you ever felt like God was stripping things away from you, one thing at a time? First a job, then your health, then your marriage, friendships, car wrecks, things breaking at home in successive order and finally loneliness?
I’ve been there. I want to encourage that woman (or man) who’s there now.
Here’s an illustration:
Your house stands among other homes in a neighborhood. One day, a construction truck shows up in your driveway. A man gets out of the truck and places a sign on the door that describes a Judge’s decision to renovate your home. You open the door and read the note. Thoughts roll though your mind. “How can this be? This is MY home?! Who is paying for this? I like my house, I don’t want anything changed. What will the neighbors think? I don’t want everyone to see all my stuff!” The man and his truck drive off.
One week later, the construction truck is back in your driveway. Three men get out of the vehicle. The first takes the bolts off the front door. The second rips out the carpet in all the rooms and the third man begins to rip off the wall paper.
A flood of emotions overcome you. You are REALLY mad. You are incredibly sad. You are embarrassed. You hide in your home, so that no one can see you. You feel awkward. Your home, that once matched all the other homes in your neighborhood now looks horrible. It is different. It’s a mess. Stuff is everywhere. People who walk in the neighborhood can see how you do life. There is little privacy. What was once a symbol of pride, strength, peace and security is now disaster, disarray, painful, and horribly embarrassing.
The men return 2 weeks later and rip out all the windows and put boards in their place. Then they turn the power off and begin to rip out all the electrical work.
It just keeps getting worse! You think to yourself. Who would do this to someone? Why are my friends not here? Do I have any real friends? I feel like I don’t belong here anymore. You continue living life in a tattered, broken home. You feel like you can’t look people in the eyes when you go to work or are in the community. You feel just plain awkward! Your dignity is gone. You now know poverty in every sense of the word.
You don’t see the men and their construction vehicle for many months until one summer day they pull into the driveway again. You have shed so many tears and you are tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of trying to hold it together. Tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Tired of attempting to keep up appearances. Tired of being tired.
The men get out of the vehicle and begin reconstruction. They re-wire, re-plumb, put all new light fixtures in, lay new hardwood floors, reconstruct windows, doors and lay brand new carpet. They paint all the rooms and even put a new library in your home. After that, they move to the exterior of the home. They pull off the siding and put new stone and brick in it’s place. Who is paying for this? This is so beautiful! I love it!
When the builders are completed with the reconstruction, they knock on your door. You open the brand new oak door, smiling from ear to ear and wrap your arms around the man and say, “‘Thank you so much! This is just want I wanted! Do I owe you anything?’ The man standing on your porch says, ‘It’s paid in full. Don’t worry about it. The men get in the construction truck and leave. You reflect on your former shame. Now, you like where you live. You are happy here. The former emotions of sadness and anger are a distant memory. Somehow, all that suffering, strangely seems worth it. You know you are loved and are filled with immense gratitude. You have a brand new home!
Here is the meaning:
You are the home. The three men represent the Holy Spirit. The judge is God. Jesus paid for all the renovations with His life. God sees our bad habits, our character flaws and our bad attitudes. You have a need to be purged from these weak areas to make you more mature, set apart for Him. So, He begins to take away things in your life…..the carpet of criticism and replaces it with the wood floors of compassion. He takes the old door of judgement and replaces it with a beautiful new door of love. He strips the aged wall paper of pride and replaces it with the vibrant paint of patience. When God is stripping you of material things, you are very self conscious and feel exposed. This allows you to see your blind spots that you would have not otherwise have noticed.
It is a process. The stripping away, the awkwardness, the sense of doom, the self-reflection, the isolation. Faith grows during adversity. Dependency on God is necessary to walk though this suffering. When God sees the impurities gone, He begins to rebuild you. Eventually, your new home, your new character shines for Him, so much so that you stick out in your “neighborhood”. You really like who you’ve become…..and it all seems worth it. You have a good attitude about God, yourself, others and creation. Our suffering is our gold. If you trust in Him, this demolition will only make you better.
Everything is needful that He sends, nothing is needful that He withholds. – John Newton