how building a house is changing me

building a house

We are building a house.

Well, to be accurate, we are working with a good friend who is also a contractor and we are collaboratively building our future home.

This is the house in which we hope to see our boys grow into men; this is the one in which we hope to put down roots, both literally and metaphorically. This house is the house we’ve hoped for and prayed for and this is the house we’ve seen God miraculously provide for, every step of the way.

The process has been an interesting one. When we were walking the property early on, we talked about where we would plant pear trees, build the boys a tree-house, and watch the sun slip behind the horizon. This house-dream felt like a promise and yet, it still seemed far away. Like it might happen, someday.

Then the day came when our ragtag group sat around a mahogany table, with my husband to my right and my parents and grandmother facing us. It was a few days before Halloween, so I readily bribed my boys with some Fun Size Snickers to “be good,” as they squirmed behind us. Each of the adults gave signature to the papers that would transfer the piece of land for an agreed upon price. After we got home, I regretted not snapping a quick photo with everyone around that table.

The day our builder came over with the house plans, it felt like we were talking about somebody else’s house. You mean, we get to live there?

When the dirt was finally turned over, by a friendly fella in overalls and sporting a worn-in Santa beard, we knew change was happening. The plans and talks were morphing into real-life action. The hill would never be the same. Some trees were uprooted and removed for good. Gravel now tracked a driveway where there hadn’t been one before. The hill was starting to transform, to become something else, something new.

We are building a house and some days it still doesn’t feel real. Like a play unfolding under canned lights on a stage– you know the actors are real people and its all happening in real time right before your eyes, but it is still not reality. It doesn’t connect with your true, everyday life. It is happening but you’ll still go home to the same place as before, be the same person as before.

(And then other days my worth gets all tangled up with it and it doesn’t feel fair that we get to build this place. I mean, what have we done to deserve this? It all feels too much, too extravagant.)

This process of building, of transforming, came to us. It sought us out and we were found by it. It quietly broke ground and then it took root in our hearts. This process has not been a deliberately calculated one and some days I’m tempted to panic because of the distinct way it confronts my desire for control. It can’t be controlled; it has a life of its own.

Am I still talking about building our house? Well, yes and no.

I am bearing witness to a thing that is happening in my physical, external life, and through this process, I am also being awakened to a thing that is happening within myself. Our timber-and-concrete house is being built for the purpose of becoming a home, yes. But the building is also a living parable, unfolding a little more everyday.

It is a story, teaching my heart about another, truer home.

And He [Jesus] said: “How can we illustrate the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown in the soil, is smaller than all the seeds on the ground. And when sown, it comes up and grows taller than all the vegetables, and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade. (Mark 4:31-32)

The prophets used wildly vivid imagery to paint a picture of the coming King; Jesus used parables to invite his neighbors to an invisible kingdom. The Spirit at work in the words of the prophets was the same Spirit at work in Jesus’ stories. It was the same Spirit that blew through the place like wind and came down on heads like fire at Pentecost. The very same Spirit is still speaking, still teaching through the story of our unfolding life.

What I am learning: this house is being built because it is the will of the Father and he has provided the means for it at every turn. It is a testament to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, precisely because we must trust his voice of truth leading us, moment-by-moment. And it is a conduit of the Spirit’s movement in our real life. We are being challenged to welcome the work of God or to resist it– and sometimes that looks like making hard decisions, swallowing our pride, and asking forgiveness. Building this house is changing me, changing our family, because it is requiring us to rely on the deeper life of Christ to sustain us until the end.

We are getting close to the final stages of our building journey- less than two months from moving in. This house is going to be beautiful and I am chomping at the bit to start decorating it! But even more than beauty, this house represents the goodness of God to our family. He is building a house within us that will stand forever; a kingdom that will never see its end. He is the solid rock that we lean on and the sure foundation that we live on. Our new house is a mere shadow of what God is doing within us, and all around us, and He will be faithful to bring us to that forever home.

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