I met my very dear friend, Linda, at a prayer meeting at our new church. I went because the Lord prompted me to go. Linda went because prayer makes her heart sing. We met for coffee afterward and found that we were both military spouses, writers, and students of God’s Word. I’m utterly thankful that all along the Lord was preparing us for this lovely friendship. Today, I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!
Preparing a Place…
It has been a loonng time, of living in the middle, especially if you consider the changes begun twenty-five years ago.
I don’t have photos of the concrete garage, the dark-paneled walls in the den, or the 25-year-old gold shag carpet. Thank goodness! That part of the remodel took place ages ago; I can barely remember it. However, I do have this “before” photo taken about thirteen months ago when we began demolition for our current basement-makeover. And now, I have an “after” photo.
I love beauty. When we began, I had a vision of what the area could be. I imagined light airy spaces, a well-lit bedroom, and a kitchen in the space occupied by a wet bar. During this renovation, we’ve hauled truckloads of junk away to the thrift store and to the dump. It has been a long, very messy thirteen months.
The space we’ve built downstairs, however, is not for us. It’s an apartment, a place for someone else to live.
In John 14, we learn that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us, and that He will call us to Himself. These words were spoken on the way to the cross. They were essential, meant to encourage and give hope while the disciples lived in the messy middle—between regeneration and glorification, during that season when Jesus was no longer a tangible presence. It was, and is, a challenging abode of suffering and sanctification while we wait.
I wonder how often those early, persecuted Christians said to themselves as they desperately clung to the promise, “I have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. He’s building a place for US – for ME, and it’s worth the wait.”
Although God is building a home in heaven, He also has a building project in and among His people on the earth, in us individually and corporately.
During our renovation, some of the work was backbreaking—like sledge hammering concrete and digging the trench for the plumbing, or hanging heavy bead board on the ceiling. Other parts have been tedious, like sinking nails and puttying nail holes, or ornamental—picking paint and fixtures or creatively designing an eating area.
And so it is with us. Some of the work God does in us is deep and dirty. At other times, He’s helping us to toss trash, to rip down wrong beliefs, and to choose between good and best. Occasionally, He applies putty to the empty holes in our lives and sands to make things smooth. At other times God is making us beautiful—simply for the joy of it.
Our God is preparing a house for us, but as the Church, He’s also building a dwelling place for Himself. We’re living stones, built on the foundation of the Chief Corner Stone, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2). He’s a builder in heaven and on earth.
Sometimes it feels like the process will take forever, both waiting for heaven and waiting for change here, in me. But when I look back, I can barely remember some of things I struggled with years ago. Change has already taken place.
God has a vision of what we will be one day: we will look like Jesus. In the meantime, I try to keep an image of a perfect Christ in my heart and mind, believing like 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, that we are being transformed into that image. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” That’s the work that’s taking place here.
Slow work. But the “after” picture? Oh, YES!
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is…everyone who has this hope fixed on Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
In the meantime, we wait, between the before and the after, secure in His promise, yet filled with our longing.
Linda Barrett is Honey to her husband, Mama to three grown children, and Momanim to an energetic, blue-eyed dog named Barnabas. She grew up in Alabama, graduated with a degree in English, married, then for twenty years zigzagged across the country, finally settling in Birmingham twenty-two years ago.
Although converted when young, performance-based Christianity drove Linda to despair. Then she awakened to God’s glory and unconditional love. Now you can often find her weeping in delight over God and his overwhelming grace to her and others. She shares God’s revealed grace and wonders through writing, teaching, mentoring, and other arts.
She loves well-crafted stories, meaningful conversations, camping with her husband, laughter with friends and family, and worship and prayer with like-minded people.
Linda has published several articles and co-authored a unique new-moms study called: Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy Calling.
She blogs at: invitationtowonder.wordpress.com.