We have been renovating our home for eight years now. One inspired Halloween, Tim and I dressed up as the main characters of the nineties hit show, Home Improvement, several years back, and it is even more ironic now that we have a house full of three boys.
Now on my third pregnancy, the nesting instinct has taken over, and more powerful than ever. Lucky for me, my husband is a very handy guy, and enjoys the process of renovating our two story, three bedroom, 1930 built craftsman home. Our most recent projects have centered in our main living room space. For my birthday, I asked Tim to paint over our dark crimson walls with a bright white coat of paint, which is no easy feat with three little people running around. He has been working diligently every weekend and it recently got finished thanks to a sweet sister in our house church who took time over her thanksgiving holiday to finish the last leg of it. It took three coats of primer and one coat of top coat to finish the job.
For Christmas, I asked Tim for recessed lighting in our living room. Our rambunctious boys are all three years old and under, and we have another baby boy on the way. Our living room has survived their babyhood somehow with three flimsy Ikea lamps to light the entire space. The boys knock the lamps over constantly, and it has been a huge source of stress lately at the house. Needless to say, I was very excited to see this project take off this weekend.
Home improvement and parenting wee people is a cocktail of its own kind. One by itself takes perseverance, a sense of humor, and a willingness to live in complete chaos and mess at all times. Both together takes all that, and a village of Christian community, and a miraculous presence of a God who delights in bringing light from darkness, and bringing peace to a messy, chaotic world.
Recently, we have been walking through some very difficult things with Benji’s family. Benji is our third son, who came to live with us through Safe Families Greater Dayton in May of this year. Benji is not his real name, but rather what I call him on social media. I can only describe his current bio family situation as dark. Every other week it seems we learn of more evil, and we cry out to Jesus to come back and make all things new. This week, to encourage me, a friend texted me this passage from John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Since bringing him home, we have attempted to be a light in dark places, not necessarily knowing what mess and chaos that would bring to our life. We entered into darkness, only to find Jesus’ light is brighter still. Subconsciously, I wonder how the decisions in designing our living room have come from an innate need in my Jesus-full heart to bring more light to this ever dark world. When I think about our living room, I think about the deep red that covered the space before and I think about Jesus’ blood that washed our darkest sins away, making us new and pure and bright like my new current walls. And when I think about those old lamps, I actually believe they were doing their job! But until we entered into the complete mess and chaos of renovation, we did not know how bright and light filled our lives could be.
When Jesus saves our lives, He brings life and light. He expels the darkness, but it is not a process that happens in an instant, but rather He enters into our mess and chaos and brings order, light, and purity by remaking us completely. And then, He calls us to do the same with the world around us. As He brings us light inwardly, He calls us to look upward and outward.
I believe before Benji came home to us, we were Ikea lamps in a dark space. Certainly, Jesus was shining through us, but He had better and brighter things in mind. Now we understand that in order to show a fuller picture of Christ, we must be willing to enter into discomfort in the most personal of places to us. There must be nothing off limits, not even our home, to the renovations of God. Because Jesus embraced the messy world and infused it with His glorious, marvelous light, we must do the same. He became flesh and made his home with us. I can only imagine the renovations required of the world to be fit for the most Holy person in the world to dwell. And that is exactly what He did- what He DOES- with each one of His children. He completely remakes us all into His radiant abode, where He himself dwells.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7
As God has been calling us to a brighter way of living, we have had increased fellowship with the community of believers He has given us. So even as we enter into darkness, He has sent His family to install brighteners, exposing more of Himself through the dark crevices we did not even know existed. I see so much light in all of them. Just this week, I have seen a member of the family of God every day in some capacity, and mostly it has been to be served by them. Three times this week, our community watched our kids- for date night, for a doctor’s apt, and for a grocery run. Yet another day we had our house church over to our house, where our entire house church prayed over our family. Three brothers met together in our house to install the very lights that inspired this blog post. Last Sunday, we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent with a house church dinner, one where we lit the first candle, the candle of hope.
We have so much hope, hope that the world desperately needs. The light of hope, Jesus himself, lives within us! So we can walk boldly into the darkest of rooms with a power tool and BR30 LED bulbs and say with confidence that there is no room Jesus can not light up! And we can say it with such conviction because we have seen it displayed in our very lives, and in the lives of all the believers we live life with who shine Him so brightly.
Perhaps, like us, you see an opportunity to take place in a new thing God is doing, but you are scared of the discomfort, mess, and chaos it will bring to your life. Or maybe you will be scared that by entering into dark places, you will lose hope. Take our testimony as proof that Jesus’ light and hope are brighter still when confronted with darkness, and that you are missing out if you don’t say yes to the process of renovation. Without testing, your light will stay dim, and your faith will stay weak. I think my buddies James and Paul would agree with me on those points in the Bible, but perhaps I’ve preached enough on the internet for one night.
Come over. Tell me about His light in your life, and I will tell you of His light in mine.