He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 1:6
One way Jesus serves is by remaking us from the inside out and being patient until the work is finished. I once thought this remaking work would be wrapped up in a few weeks. So I was always a bit ashamed when things in my life were less than perfect. Then Liz and I remodeled our kitchen and in the process I learned an important lesson.
Remodeling our kitchen was a massive project. Partly because I had never used power tools before and partly because we were taking out walls and putting in new fixtures.
My friend Rod Brown drove out from Minnesota to help, and I’m so glad that he did. For starters, he flips houses in his spare time, so he knows his way through a remolding project. But mainly, I was glad he was there to encourage me.
You see, about halfway through the project, I was certain I had destroyed my kitchen. It looked like a bomb went off. Like one big mistake. Huge holes in the drywall. Dangling electrical wires. Dust everywhere. I was so overwhelmed by the mess and so fearful my house was beyond repair that I stopped functioning. I just stood in the middle of the mess wishing it would go away.
Rod isn’t what I’d call a sensitive man, but he noticed I wasn’t doing well. So he called a five minute break, handed me a can of Country Time Lemonade and said, “Charlie, you’ve got to learn to be okay with the mess. It’s just part of the project and I’m not leaving until it’s done.”
Those words weren’t just what I needed to hear about my kitchen. They were words for my soul.
Up to that point, I thought God wasn’t okay with the mess. That everything in my life needed to be neat and tidy. That the holes in my character frightened him deeply. That sometimes he wondered if starting a work in me was just one big mistake.
But Rod’s words shifted something in my soul. They helped me to see that my life is a remodel project and for the time being, God doesn’t have a problem with the mess. Sure, dust is everywhere. Sure, sometimes he removes some drywall and exposes things I’d rather not face. But God isn’t overwhelmed. He’s too busy taking out the old things and bringing in the new.
Christianity reveals this truth in such a clear way. After all, the Jesus story is about a humble God who cares about the mess we are in. So God comes as a humble servant and his humility means he’s patient as he works to renew and remake.
So now I am practicing letting myself be a work in progress. Believing Jesus notices all the things about me that need to be redone, and yet he loves me anyway, and is okay with the mess because he is remaking me from the inside out.