HGTV is one of my favorite channels. The hunt for the perfect house. Finding a bargain on the beach. A rundown building made into a gorgeous home. These are the things that excite me. So in June of 2014 for our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to renovate our 1950's kitchen. We tore out the metal cabinets, knocked down the wall of plaster that separated our tiny dining room from our tiny kitchen, and completely gutted what was left. On paper we designed our perfect open-concept kitchen. It would be beautiful!
Fourteen months later our kitchen is still just a shell. BUT I'm not saying this to complain - although I regret that I've been guilty of that many times since we began this project. I'm sharing this story because it reminds me of The Great Renovation. That is, the one in which God transforms us into the people he designed us to be. His! Made in His image!
As I was skimming through my journals, I stumbled upon notes I took during a women's conference with Annie Chapman in 2006 at America's Keswick. In the middle of the page, the word "renovation" caught my eye. This is what I wrote:
It takes longer than we thought.
It's messier than we thought.
It costs more than we thought.
I can certainly testify to that! But as this pertains to our Godly transformation, I want to point out three notable women who were transformed, fixed, or renovated. The renovation each one experienced most likely took some time, was messy, and there was no doubt, a price to pay.
The Adulterous Woman. The story of this woman is found in John 8. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus and announced that she had been caught in adultery. They demanded that she be stoned for her sin. But Jesus took his time, drawing in the sand, and eventually said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first" (verse 7). One by one each of them departed. When Jesus was the only one who remained with the woman, He said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (verse 11). I'm sure this woman had feared for her life and was sorry for what she had done. But rather than suffer a violent death for her sin, she was transformed by forgiveness and grace because Jesus paid that price for her.
The Samaritan Woman. This woman had a bad reputation. So to avoid ridicule by other women who went to the well in the early morning or evening, the Samaritan woman went to draw water at noon, the hottest time of day. Jesus appeared at the well while she was there and asked her for a drink. She was confused and asked how it was possible that He, being a Jew (and a Middle Eastern man), should ask for a drink from a Samaritan woman. He answered by offering her living water. Jesus disregarded all the social rules: (1) Middle Eastern men never spoke to women in public, (2) a Jew never spoke to a Samaritan, and (3) a man of respect would never speak to a woman with such a bad reputation. He offered her something no one else could - eternal life. She was forgiven, cleansed, and renewed. She went on to exclaim to others - without embarrassment - that the promised Messiah had arrived. And many other Samaritans responded in favor to Jesus.
Annie Chapman. She was severely raped as a child by one of her father's farmhands. She was ruined for decades. The rape was never spoken of again but she would never forget it. She went from sad to angry to desperately wanting to die. She couldn't stand herself. She accepted Christ at the age of eighteen, and although there was still work to be done to overcome the emotional pain and anger, she had been truly renovated. She was a new creature. The old was gone. Annie shares this story in her book Letting Go of Anger. Today she is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband have been traveling, singing, writing, and speaking about family issues since 1975. What an amazing ministry they have!
These women are great examples of the transformation we can experience through Christ. My kitchen renovation is definitely taking much longer than we thought it would. It has been much messier than we ever imagined. And of course it is costing a bit more than we anticipated. But that's OK because as I continue to work on this renovation project, I will remember that the best things in life are worth the blood, sweat, and tears. And a great price was indeed paid so that I could have new life!