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.
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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.