We have reached another renovation milestone for our house! As of
last weekend, all of the honey-oak hardwood floors in the living room,
dining room, and bedrooms have been liberated from the carpet that has
covered them for the majority of their lives. Fortunately, the floors were
in excellent condition when the carpet was laid. Sherron and I ripped up
the carpet, pried up the tack strips, pulled up the pad staples, and cleaned
and hand-buffed the floors. We did not need to sand and refinish the
floors, but only to renew the finish that had been protected by the carpet
for nearly 40 years. We reset the furniture in the living room and dining
room last weekend, and now we are finished! Except .
Now we need to get someone to replace the quarter-round trim on the
baseboards in the living room and dining room. It was removed when the
carpet was installed. We have already had it replaced in the bedrooms. And
. the area rugs we had stored in the attic for almost 25 years are in great
shape, but .. The colors are wrong for the furniture we have now. We most
likely will replace the rugs. Or, maybe we will replace the loveseat and
wingback chair. While we’re at it, the dining room table and chairs, china
cabinet, and buffet look dated and ill-at-ease with the renewed hardwood
floors. New dining room furnishings may be added to the plan. All this
surely calls for painting . and new curtains . and what about changing or
eliminating the wallpaper? All this, to say nothing of the kitchen cabinets
and countertops, or the landscape plan, or routine maintenance and painting
. and .. There is always something!
Sound familiar? Most of us have home improvement projects lined up
well into the next decade. Whether we have a grand plan with carefully
coordinated incremental design stages, or if we have a general idea fueled
by spontaneous inspiration, we work toward a vision of the home we intend to
enjoy. Hardly ever do we fully arrive at the ideal dream house. Something
else can always be done to improve the home we treasure. Home renovation
(literally, “making new) is ongoing.
Shouldn’t we learn from our penchant for home improvement that
spiritual renovation also should be ongoing, and that it deserves careful
planning, cultivated inspiration, and commitment of time and resources? We
know that home improvements succeed best when we have a clear goal in mind,
design a detailed plan, and set a workable budget and dedicated schedule for
completing the project. Far too seldom do we approach faith renovations
with similar intentionality. Without planning and scheduling, home
improvement projects often languish and remain frustratingly incomplete.
Spiritual renovation without a dedicated plan usually produces the same kind
of disappointing results.
Paul used the metaphor of careful building and renovating for
followers of Jesus to become more and more Christlike. His description of
the project is enhanced by Eugene Peterson’s rendering:
To put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a
good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let
each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation!
Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ.
Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually
there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials,
you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t
get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t,
your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you
won’t be torn out; you’ll survive-but just barely. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15,
We can learn from every aspect of a fulfilling home renovation how to do
fruitful spiritual renovation. Here are just a few suggestions:
. Cultivate inspiration. Ideas for home renovations often come from
reading design magazines, watching home improvement shows on HG-TV or DIY
Network, visiting home shows, or talking with people who are on their way
doing them. Spiritual renovation can be inspired by reading the Bible,
reading biographies of saints and modern disciples, and talking with
experienced followers of Christ whose lives we want to emulate.
. Make a definite plan. Home renovation does not just happen, all by
itself. The better planning, budgeting, and scheduling are done in advance,
the more successful the project. Why are we so lackadaisical about making
definite plans and commitments for renewing our spiritual lives? Having a
clear vision of how we want to develop spiritually, planning step-by-step
how to get from where we are now to the spiritual vitality we desire,
committing ourselves to the work and resources required for spiritual growth
to take form – all are essential if we hope to move beyond the dilapidated
spiritual shanties we often settle for.
. Enjoy each renovation and its benefits. Doing home improvement
projects is satisfying work. Projects increase the equity and value of our
homes. We find increased comfort, utility, and joy as projects are
realized. Spiritual renovation gives us fulfilling service as co-laborers
with God in building up our lives and sharing God’s grace and love with
others. Each spiritual growth project draws us closer to our Lord and to
the community of faith in which we live. Our ultimate enjoyment beckons us
on toward the eternal home God has waiting for us – one prepared by the
Master Carpenter of all time!
It’s time to get to work. For every home improvement project you have
planned, make at least one definite spiritual renovation plan. Enjoy the
good work on both kinds of improvements.
– J. Edward Culpepper
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