God’s Renovations Involve Wrecking Balls, Not Paint Brushes

The house sits mostly empty on this cold Sunday afternoon. The chickens walk up on to the deck and peck at the glass patio doors, their heads twitching from side to side, trying to figure out why a wall of plastic containers obscures their view of the living room. Cardboard boxes stand by the front door – they will carry away the final remnants of this time in our lives.

An unexpected peace fell over the house this week as we packed up our stuff and wedged it into storage. In my experience, all great adventures begin and end with a storage unit. Boxes of books, clothes, and dishes never touched in the two years we lived here have vanished. There is something refreshing about empty space. There is something about simplicity that makes it easier to breathe.

The house even seems bigger now, without the chairs and table and wardrobes, the carpets and end tables and piles of things we never used but only moved from spot to spot. It’s been a good reminder to me, about how our life can expand if we’re willing to throw some of our stuff on to the altar.

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Two years ago Maile and I drove back the long lane to this house and walked unsteadily through the snow, peering through uncurtained windows, trying to decipher if this was the house the future held for us. Anne Lamott says that when we ask God into our lives, we expect him to throw some paint on the walls or maybe tear up a water-stained carpet, but then he rolls up with a wrecking ball.

Two years ago, before moving into this house, we had been wrecked in so many ways. Over $50,000 in debt, living in my parent’s basement, and me armed with the silly notion of making a living doing the one thing on earth I loved to do. I was 33 years old and I felt like God had demolished us and then walked off to work on other projects, like an irresponsible contractor who takes on too many jobs.

But we moved into this house, and we found hope. We planted a garden. The kids learned how to enjoy the freedom of playing outside by themselves, or exploring the forest. Lucy and Abra came out of their shells, carrying chickens as if they were baby dolls. The boys grew up here in those two short years, Cade developing into a kind, fun-loving boy, and Sammy into a rough-housing jokester.

But the point is, our lives changed drastically in the last two years, here in this house. And now we’re leaving. It’s hard to leave the house where you grew up, and I did a lot of growing up in this house. We’re certainly not the same people we were when we moved in. If anything, we’re more adventurous, less concerned about what other people think, and trusting God in deeper ways than ever before.

* * * * *

Maybe you want things to change. Maybe you are tired of the life you’ve created. Maybe you’re longing for a new adventure.

If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to hear that God loves to change people. He loves to recreate and redeem. And, much like Gandalf, he’ll be happy to bring an adventure knocking at your front door.

But if you do ask for any of these things, be prepared to move out. Because he won’t bring a paint brush – he’ll bring a wrecking ball.

8 Replies to “God’s Renovations Involve Wrecking Balls, Not Paint Brushes”

  1. Great thoughts Shawn about these times of transition. They are always bittersweet. I continually find that after each move, I’m surprised with the new things God starts to do in me.

    Case in point, in moving to Columbus it was REALLY hard to leave our friends, family, and landscape of New England. However, once we settled into our home in Ohio, we found a great church and I began to meet designers right when I began to completely rethink how I write nonfiction books and present them. As it turns out, my church that is crawling with designers has become a great place where my next step forward as a writer can take place.

  2. Wow. And yeah. That wrecking ball can hurt, but it can also open up a giant can of “Dude! I did not know I had that in me.” Of course, the equipping comes with the wreck, but that’s for Him.

    Aside: Kurt’s mom kept photos of every house they ever lived in. They moved every 2 years for 14 years. That’s a lot of houses, and the siblings all have memories of all of them.

    1. Thanks for that second paragraph, Jen. As someone who lived in the same square mile from the age of 5 to the age of 18, sometimes I worry about dragging our children from here to there.

      1. I cherish the photos as much as Kurt does (or nearly). I love to see the places that shaped him, them. They even lived in England for a time, where their house was named: Hollyhouse. See? Lovely things to show your babies.

  3. There was a fun–not great, but fun–movie out several years ago called Extreme Days. In amongst the (admitted) silliness was a similar message: “When God throws you a curveball, don’t duck.” Which I interpret to mean: don’t try to dodge it, but rather let His pitch carry you where it will. You’ll be surprised in the end.

  4. I like this.
    I lived in that house. I chose that house. I did the landscaping there….it was our dream.
    I moved in with big dreams and moved out with shattered dreams. It holds a special place in my heart and Im so glad it was a special place for you.

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