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Built to Last

Jan 29, 2019

Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us! [Romans 5:3-5]


It’s demo day!

But I can’t call it that because my contractor won’t let me.

“We don’t call it demo with houses like this,” says Robb, “instead we call it harvesting.”

He tells me they don’t build houses like they used to, and some of the fixtures of this old house were built to last.

Well, far be it from me to smash through what’s been built to last!

While there are things meant to keep, there are also things that need to go. We’ve got to get rid of the rotten and out-dated or else the house will be susceptible to major damage. So Robb and I “harvest” by walking through the house marking things to keep and things to remove.

I’m learning that it’s a balance that takes skill and a lot of patience. A demo can happen in an afternoon, but harvesting takes a little more time and care.

We’ve waited a long time for this house, even longer for demo harvesting day, which makes taking a sledge hammer to everything a pretty tempting option. I’m ready get this party started! But I remind myself we’re taking our time so we can keep the things that were built to last while making room for upgrade.

Deconstruction is necessary in order to build something better.

The process of deconstructing this house on a hill has got me thinking about how I approach changes within my own life.

I’m entering a new season, and I feel a bit deconstructed at the moment. Maybe you’re feeling it too — like you’re not quite the person you once were but not yet the person you’re about to become. It’s like being in a hallway, leaving one room to enter another. I haven’t reached the new room yet. Honestly, I thought this kind of self-discovery thing ended with my twenties, but now I’m realizing that no decade marks the end of my ability to grow. I’m thankful life works that way because this house is about to turn 75 and if it could no longer be changed then it would be uninhabitable forever.

Change is inevitable in any stage of life, we can’t always control when it comes but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any control. Change makes way for us to experience an expansion of ourselves — an upgrade. The upgrade is voluntary. What we decide to let go and what we decide to keep determines how change affects us.

Change can be really scary because it sometimes looks and feels a lot like suffering. It can be painful, daunting, and leave us wondering if we’re going to last.

Sometimes we mistake the hallway for the new season, so we end up feeling stuck, trapped, or misled. We stop moving forward and settle for a windowless existence, or we panic, and pick up the sledge hammer labeled “never again” and start swinging away at our old selves and seasons hoping to break free.

We make declarations like:

Never again will I trust…

Never again will I try…

Never again will I fail…

Never again will I be…

Maybe we even call it “moving on” or “growing up” to justify it’s harshness while we pound away at our hearts until we’re sure there is nothing left but steel.

We can become hard, and then confuse that state of being with becoming strong.

But hardness is not strength. Strength doesn’t come by toughening, it comes by trusting. [check out: Hebrews 10:23-24, Isaiah 40:30]

There is an underlying fear that comes with all change, and that is “things will never be the same.” I have found that it is not losing the familiar that bothers me as much as the concern that things won’t be as good as they once were. If this house was a person, I bet it would have similar fears. I bet it would be cursing my name for letting someone smash though its walls and tear out its old wiring. I bet it would look inside at it’s bare beams and stripped floors and cry, “I’ll never be the same!” No, this house will never be the same, but it won’t be left deconstructed either, it will be made so much better. It will be beautiful again, and solid, and able to withstand the elements of the new season ahead.

The promise for Jesus followers is that our pressures and sufferings, our seasons of deconstruction, upgrade us. They produce endurance in us, refine our character, and lead us back to hope. [Check out: Romans 5:3-5]

It’s not the suffering itself that makes us better, but the skill and care of an expert Builder. [check out: Ephesians 2:10]

In a world where suffering destroys and depletes, many expect only survival at the very best. But we can have a different expectation because we hold a promise for a flourishing life— not just in heaven — but in the here and now. [check out: John 10:10, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Matthew 11:28-29]

Suffering cannot work against us because of the greater work already being done in us. [check out: Philippians 2:13, Romans 8:11]

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. [James 1:2-4]

We don’t have be happy about suffering. I used to think that was what this verse was about — a command to play some kind of game where I had to pretend to be excited when bad things happened to me.

No.

When pain comes, you don’t have to say, “I’m so glad for what has come to me!” But you can say with an expectation of goodness, “I’m so glad for what will become of me!”

If suffering is present, upgrade is on the way, and you won’t walk away empty handed.

Sure, there’s stuff to demo.

We have to let go of the things that cause rot and rust and make us fall apart:

Bitterness.

Offense.

Fear.

But there are good things to harvest in these hard places:

Faith.

Hope.

Love.

There are things to let go:

Speculation.

Insecurity.

Comparison.

Unforgiveness.

There are things to keep:

Wisdom.

Humility.

Tenacity.

Freedom.

Pain will come, but it will also leave. God has wired us in a way that protects us from any harmful diminishment suffering can inflict, and that’s how I know that you and I were built to last.


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