I am the Temple of God, the very house where God dwells. Me. ME. A part of God lives inside me. That’s a crazy amazing idea. I’ve grown up knowing about the Mansions Over the Hilltop, and I can’t wait one day to walk the streets of gold and see what my gracious Father has prepared for me. But meanwhile, I can’t lose sight of the fact that I am the house of God right now, at this very moment of my life. And as all home owners know, that takes some upkeep.
My house has a solid foundation built with years of growing up being taught and shown who God and Jesus are. How He loves me. How He saves me. My house grew as I matured into adulthood and found my own faith and my own personal walk with God. I constructed many different rooms for different purposes. It was a pretty, decorated house, with fresh paint and flower boxes on the windows.
As life happened, I got a bit neglectful. I got lazy with cleaning and repairs. I was too beat down some days to change the light bulbs, and the interior got dingy and dark. At first, the outside stayed neat and tidy, but in time, even the exterior showed wear. You know that house a few doors down and that makes you cringe as your drive by? That was mine. The color became outdated, the paint started to peel, the front porch got shaky. Even the grass was weedy and overgrown. My house still stood, but looked like it had been through some serious storms — which in fact it had. Life’s storms are rough on houses, and we have been through our share — miscarriage, job losses, financial strains, family illness, surgeries and deaths, not to mention just having kids! Oh, I still lived in my house, as did my Holy Father, but I had pretty much pushed Him down into the basement.
But nobody puts Baby in the corner, and no one keeps God in the basement. A couple of years ago, my son came out as gay, and in doing so, beamed a big huge spotlight on my Christian house, and I saw clearly for the first time how truly negligent I had become. I never decided to let my house go, I think I just got tired and complacent, and didn’t repair after the winds and rains swept through. Then one day I found myself with a house that was pretty dilapidated.
So I got off my recliner, and decided that before I pulled out my hammer and nails, I needed to know just how much damage I was dealing with. I started with my foundation, because I knew the importance. I was honestly afraid to test it, afraid that it wouldn’t pass the test and all my life’s work would have been destroyed. But I should have known God never weakens. Rock solid. I breathed a sigh of relief — with a solid foundation, anything else can be fixed. It just might take a lot of work. And it did.
I evaluated what still worked for me and my God and what didn’t. It’s hard to take that step back from what’s been comfortable and truly look through His eyes and see what my house, what HIS house, needs to look like. What it needs to look like now anyway, as I think the plans need freshening with different stages of life. This stage required an overhaul. Like a “Move that truck” moment. I debated on just bulldozing and starting over, but so much of the structure was still in tact and strong. So I did a redesign instead, tearing out the inner walls that had kept the rooms small and separate and compartmentalized. I created a large open floor plan that would hold many people. I stretched tiny clerestory windows into large picture windows to let in as much natural light as I possible. Once that was done, I discovered that I didn’t need any artificial lighting at all!
Now that the framework is in place, I’ve started settling into my updated residence. It’s still a work in progress (much like my earthly home). I still find dark corners that I can’t seem to keep lit. I miss the comfort of the familiar sometimes, and feel a little lost. But on those days, I hold out my hand and God takes it from my living room where He now resides. I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to finish my renovation, if ever, as the master plans haven’t yet been revealed. But I know they will include a wide open front door to welcome anyone in need of shelter.
I have learned something very important during this massive spiritual remodel: it’s all about the foundation. Seems obvious to say, as I’m sure you have had the children’s song circling in your head since the first “foundation:”
The foolish man built his house upon the sand, the foolish man built his house upon the sand, the foolish man built his house upon the sand, and the rains came a-tumbling down! OH … the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, and the foolish’s man house went SPLAT!! (large clap of the hands to emphasize)
The wise man built his house upon a rock, the wise man built his house upon a rock, the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came a-tumbling down! OH … the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, and the wise man’s house stood firm!
Seems like a simple and basic concept, right? But I can say it was a new thought to me simply because I now see it in a different way. I used to focus on the visual part of the house — the part others saw. I spent my time and energy worrying about every little detail that went into the look. But now after completing a pretty solid gut job, my house is still standing on the same sturdy beautiful everlasting foundation. Changing the visible didn’t change the invisible.
Post renovation, my house looks a lot different than it did, and it now looks different than most houses in my neighborhood. That would have concerned me a few years ago. In my younger days, I used others’ homes as my model. I measured my Christian success by others’ standards. But isn’t originality what gives neighborhoods character? I love my current neighborhood. I see so many beautiful welcoming homes. Some that are a bit worn or dark, but so many that are inviting and loving. I now see the value of variety in designs and structures. God is the same to all, but He looks different to everyone. He appeals in different ways to different personalities. I don’t like the neighborhoods that require cookie-cutter homes.
Now, if I notice a neighbor whose home is getting a little neglected, as mine once was, I’ll be knocking on their door with some fresh-baked banana bread to check on them. But no longer will I complain if the house down the street turns all of their lawn into a flower bed.
I’m also done with telling people where they need to build, and trying to give them the construction plans. I never felt very qualified with that kind of building anyway. And it seems to me it doesn’t work very well. Those houses tend to be the ones on sand that aren’t still standing once the storm blows over. My new neighborhood role is to wander the streets looking for wanderers and give them a message: You can build right where you stand. God loves you where you are and who you are, and He has the tools and materials you need to help you build a foundation of your very own. And if you need to borrow a wheelbarrow, I’ll give you a hand.
I’ll be a good neighbor. I like that.