In our home, the summer was dominated for weeks on end by a remodeling project. Most of the work was contracted out: removing popcorn ceilings, taking out carpet and refinishing the original hardwood, texturing and painting the walls and ceilings, rebuilding some beat-up old cabinetry.
There was a time in which I might have done more of the work myself, but no more. Already, I’m not the kind of person to initiate projects like that or feel the need for them: home is home, and even if it’s getting a little run down, it is what it is. Heck, there could be a dead platypus in the middle of the living room floor, and as long as it didn’t smell, I’d learn to step over it.
But it’s not that I have no opinion or aesthetic sensibility. Once it’s decided that the work must be done, my inner handyman is evoked (you know, the guy who’s tempted to buy a $200 tool to “do the job right” even if it gets used for ten whole minutes and never again). I found myself doing hours of work on a variety of finish jobs, and happy to do so.
It’s somewhat ironic to me that we’ve been in the midst of all of this while coming in Second Corinthians to Paul’s words about our earthly and eternal homes (see several recent posts) — our hope of swapping out these temporary tents for a house designed and built by God (2 Cor 5:1).
Paul, of course, is not talking about heavenly mansions, but resurrection bodies. Still, the metaphor provokes a bit of soul-searching about what really matters.
To beautify our earthly dwellings is squarely within the realm of Christian freedom: we have the means and are grateful. But as a friend of mine commented recently, in the midst of his own ongoing remodeling: “It’s just a house.”
We tend to have so much invested in our homes, literally and figuratively. It’s part of the American Dream. But my wife and I will only get to enjoy this blessing for a season. Eventually, someone else will buy our home and make it theirs, changing the look, tearing out the cabinetry I’ve built, painting the walls some unimaginable color.
We’re free to enjoy material blessings — provided that we keep an eternal perspective. True, the job that was done refinishing the floor, for example, left a lot to be desired. But it’s just a floor, I tell myself. Work with it more if you want to, but it’s just a floor.
The inevitable frustrations of remodeling have given us an opportunity to remember and embody a crucial truth: what matters much more is an internal renovation, the work of the Holy Spirit who has taken residence in us. And without that, can we really even enjoy what blessings we already have?