While in lockdown I spent a lot of time watching YouTube vlogs. I found I enjoyed some of the strangest things ~ like professional rug cleaners and restorers shampooing filthy rugs and making them bright and beautiful again. It was the same with landscapers who go around cleaning up neglected and abandoned yards and clearing away the overgrowth to make them neat and tidy.
At the top of my list were a handful of romantic risk-takers who have purchased abandoned chateaus and farms in France and Belgium. There are a number of these old buildings in various stages of repair. Some owners are restoring them by themselves, brick by brick, one shovelful of dirt at a time. It is incredibly labor-intensive, but they just keep at it: one brick, one wall, one room at a time until this one job is done and they can move on to the next thing. These labors are expected to take years to complete, but they persevere. A few have finished a few rooms so that they can live on site. They hope to recapture the charm of the old opulent style, so they scour the used furniture/antique stores for furnishings and fixtures which they can also restore. Eventually, a piece is recycled to become part of a new room. I love the redemptive aspect of all these stories ~ transforming something old and forgotten and discarded into something lovely and new again.
Perhaps I love this theme so much because it is the story of our salvation. God takes our damaged souls, tarnished and ugly from our sin, and restores them into something resplendent: the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. From death comes new life. It is the resurrection of our souls; the transformative power of His love that re-creates us into something that should reflect Him and draw men to Him.
Our Father is the essence of all that is good and beautiful. He showed us Himself in the person of His Son. He wants us to be like Christ: to reflect that kind of beauty and goodness to the world. He calls us to exercise faith; to trust completely in His intent for our good. He wants us to have a willingness to be obedient to Him; trusting in Him as good children have learned to do with a loving and kind parent.
That is the ideal. However, we have lost our innocence. Our innate old nature and the circumstances of our lives have exposed us to all kinds of evil, and we have come to believe that we must take care of ourselves first before anything else. We want to control our own circumstances; we trust very few. It is hard to let go of our autonomy and be in submission to anyone ~ and that includes God. When He tells us to trust Him and obey Him we may resent the idea of letting go of the controls. We don’t understand, in our sin, the goodness that He has in store for us. We prefer to stay in the comfort of what we know rather than put ourselves into the care of the master artist and restorer.
This is where faith comes in. We must trust in what we can’t prove. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
(Hebrews 11:1, NIV) We have the Scriptures to tell us about the Person of God. We see His Son, full of goodness and truth, and Who tells us that if we see Him, we have seen the Father. By faith, we can know that we can trust in Him. With God all things are possible and we can be transformed ~ made new.
Not only does our Father love us and value us (think of the price He paid to restore our relationship with Him!), He wants us to be the best we can be, to fulfill the beauty He built into us. As soon as we receive His gift of Grace and acknowledge His subsequent authority over us, He begins the process of remaking us into the image of His Son. Not only are we born again as to the removal of our sins from His sight, He begins a process of change to our spirits ~ a renewal and reframing of who we are.
As we submit to Him day by day, trusting in His wisdom and loving intent, we begin to have a different outlook. He teaches us patience and endurance. He opens our eyes to areas of self that need to be changed. He polishes and burnishes and restores our tarnished souls and makes us more loving, more tender-hearted, more discreet, and sweet-spirited. Instead of demonstrating angry, judgmental, and narrow views of our fellow man, we can come to have the patient and compassionate attitude which Christ showed in His dealings with those around Him. In the few times when He demonstrated anger, His anger was not directed toward those called sinners, but toward those who claimed goodness and obedience to the Law and to love God, but who were, in reality, full of pride and self-righteousness. In our progress of spiritual growth, He can rid us even of these attitudes and bring us toward the goal of being more like the Lord Jesus.
Unfortunately, the way may be hard. Our walls of resistance are strong. Correction and restoration might take a dose of humiliation or a sudden cringeworthy flash of enlightenment about ourselves. It might take Him allowing us to endure trials of some sort in order to be brought to our knees before He gets through to us ~ but His intent is for our ultimate good. He takes us step by step (brick by brick) to the place where we are changed and He can then move on to the next thing in us that needs to be fixed. We are also still subject to all the evil that exists in the world, but in the process, He walks with us through every valley, and will never allow more to be put on us than we are able to bear.
Eventually, if we are willing to be brought under His care and the life-changing power of His (sometimes tough) love, our trust and submission can be the path that brings us to becoming not only new again ~ our sins gone ~ but toward the goal of becoming as reflective of the love of God as we were meant to be in the beginning.