I have to drive about 40 miles to work and today I was on the interstate and decided to take the old highway instead. I turned off, driving along this small, 2 lane road. Peaceful, not much traffic at all, some gentle rolling hills and occasional curves. It was just nice. As I drove, I looked over to the fields and saw an old shack, kinda falling down, but not, busted windows, roof in bad repair. It made me think of an article I read a while back where a man had seen a similar house that was maybe 100 years old. He saw it, thought about how overall, the main structure seemed solid, it just needed some repairs, some TLC. He decided to see if he could find the landowner and see if he could buy the house, maybe a couple acres and restore it. After knocking on a few doors he found the right place and talked to the owner. The owner had been planning on tearing it down as he considered it an eyesore and unsalvageable. The man told him he thought he could fix it, would he consider selling the house and a little land? The owner said he would think about it and get back to him. The guy left his number, and went on his way.
After a couple weeks, he was still waiting, trying to decide if he should call the guy or not. He didn’t want to be a best, but he really wanted to do something with it. Well, he ended up deciding to wait. A few days later the landowner called him and said he had decided he could sell him the house and maybe 4 or 5 acres. Since the house wasn’t worth anything, he told the man just the price of the land, told him how much and they agreed on a price. The guy was ecstatic. He gets his financial things taken care of and they do the paperwork. The man went out to do a full assessment, see what was good, what wasn’t and get a better idea on how to approach it. He found that the true structure of the house was solid. Foundation needed minimal repairs, but was sound. The walls and floors, good strong wood. The actual structure, the core was solid. He got his plan figured out and started. As he worked on it over a couple years, a few hours one day, weekends, and such. The neighbors would drive by and look to see what was happening, curious about the progress. Some of them thought he was doing a great thing. They, like he, saw the possibilities. Others, well, they thought he was an idiot and that the place would be a huge money pit, requiring far more than it would ever be worth and should have been demolished. Some of each group, the supporters and detractors, would stop and visit with him at times, telling him he was doing great things, or that he was crazy. He took the encouragement to heart and kept going while ignoring the naysayers. Time went on, due to time available he had to work on it in his spare time. But, he persisted with his efforts. He didn’t give up. The place had never had plumbing or electricity, so he had to plumb it and convert part of one room into a bathroom. Next was water and septic system. After that, the electricity. He overcame those obstacles. He persisted with the other areas that needed fixed, never giving up, never losing faith. Bit by bit he addressed problems, repairing some areas, replacing things that needed replaced. He had repaired or replaced the siding as needed, insulated the house, doing the interior work but not bothering to paint it yet. On the outside, it didn’t look much different. But, on the inside, it was taking shape, becoming a house instead of a ruins. The encouragers continued to try to build him up. Some remembered what the house was like years ago, and would love to see it back in that shape. The naysayers, the also continued to criticize him and talk about what a fool he was to be putting so much effort into such a structure. Yet, he persisted in his efforts. He would occasionally give tours to the encouragers. They would walk around and were amazed. But, he chose to not do so with the detractors, believing they would just find more fault and he did not want to deal with the negative people.
As time went on, some of those that supported his efforts would talk to others. The detractors were listening, they heard a lot of praise for the work he was doing on the old structure. Some started to wonder if they had been wrong. Maybe they should reconsider and then tried looking at it again, see if they could see the good. They softened their hearts, decided to be willing to at least give him a chance. As they looked with a different attitude, they started to realize that they were mistaken initially. He was really getting it done, he was making this old dilapidated shack into a house. More and more of the doubters were slowly starting to see it differently. But, there were some that had made up their minds and there was no way this man could ever make anything out of that pile of junk. Nothing would change their minds.
Eventually, after 2 or 3 years, he finally finished it. The last step was painting the exterior and landscaping the yard. The change was phenomenal. It looked amazing. He decided to have a cook out/open house and invited anyone that wanted to come. Tons of folks turned out to see. Some were curious as they had heard, some were those who would drive by to watch the progress and a few were those that from the start until the finish had criticized him and his efforts. As the day progressed, people were amazed, he had found period correct furniture, used old or reproduction fixtures that looked right for the age of the house, paint, wall paper and wood work was done as it would have been back when the house was built. He received a lot of kind words, congratulations and reinforcement that his efforts were worthwhile. Although, while much fewer of the detractors existed as most had been swayed, there were some that refused to consider the project successful. No matter how good the house looked, no matter how the majority considered it a massive success, these naysayers persisted in their criticism. They found very slight faults, maybe in a couple places the wood trim was slightly off in the placement, just a little crooked, or there were places that he used the wrong color paint, the lighting wasn’t what they would have used, and the list went on. Those that saw the house as a hopeless project that were unwilling to re-evaluate as things progressed. They had closed minds, and refused to open themselves to possibilities. Those people, regardless of what anyone else had to say, left just as negative as they were when it all started.
People are that way at times. A person tries to change, does change, but sometimes, progress can be slow and not easily noticed. Perhaps they can’t see, because they refuse to look, at the inside. Maybe the outside looks the same, but the interior is oh, so much improved. Work is till going on, but the improvements that have actually taken place are great. The Master Carpenter, Jesus, is working on them. Started with small things, working diligently to get things addressed, repairing areas as the project continues. And, then finally, the time is right and people finally see the change. Some had seen change all along, little things, slow improvements. Language and vocabulary is better. Interactions with others markedly improved, they spend time praying and studying scripture, the pain they had felt is replaced with joy. Mostly internal changes, but still the impact of the changes can be seen, if one looks. People will notice as God works on a person. Some notice immediately, others gradually notice improvement and slowly they realize the real changes that have occurred. Sadly, there are always some that refuse to see any change, saying things to try to criticize the person, regardless of the obvious improvements.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
All have sinned, yet some purported Christians seem to feel that they have a monopoly on redemption and salvation. They think that they are worthy to be saved, and others are not. They attack those that they doubt. Maybe thinking that person was such a mess, such a horrid person (possibly true, maybe only partially true) that there is no way they can ever do any right or be redeemed. Christ does not care what we did, who we were, He will redeem all those that acknowledge Him as the Son of God, confess our sins, and that He sacrificed Himself for all sinners. If one does, and then strives to become a faithful servant. Jesus will provide what He seeks.
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Christ will, and does, redeem all that seek redemption. The critical people, the naysayers, may continue with their harsh words. But that does not change that our Jesus does miraculous things. I have criticized, I have been criticized. When I did, I was wrong. I have talked about this with the Lord and He has forgiven me. He has done much in my life and there is certainly a lot more to do. But, He doesn’t give up on me. Some people may, some days, I may want to give up on myself, but if I talk to God on those days, He strengthens my resolve to persist in my efforts. He is such a magnificent Lord.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Acts 27:25
Remember, if you are going through this, Christ brings grace, redemption, salvation and mercy. Do not let those who wish to attack you and bring you down succeed. Your Lord is great and mighty and all things are possible through Christ. Run your race, stay your course. Seek the Lord and you will succeed. You will get your old, run down shack restored. It will be a new house. Keep the faith, keep up your efforts.
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Those striving to improve as Christians, trying to learn His word, will and way. Stay your course, Run your race, finish your course, continue to restore your shack to make it into a mansion. Don’t let stumbling blocks and naysayers make you falter. Don’t let them take your resolve. Don’t let anyone steal the joy that Christ gives you. Know you will never be perfect, but never stop striving for that goal. You will only improve as you go.
I praise your Holy Name and thank You for the blessings You give me. I ask You to continue Your work in my heart, help me continue my efforts to better serve You and to better learn how to seek You. Give me the strength, patience and resolve to stay the course, finish my race, complete my restoration. I ask that You give me the grace to forgive and pray for those that show hate and anger towards me. That I not let their negative words and behavior drag me down. That I be meek and forgiving, not brash and judgmental about others actions. I pray that if I have been the naysayer those people forgive me. I pray for forgiveness from You for all of my sins and failures to be the Christian Jesus wishes me to be. Help me draw closer to You. I pray that You work in the hearts and minds of loved ones, make them see Your truths, mercies, forgiveness and salvation so they seek You as well. Open their eyes to Your truths. Strengthen those struggling with whatever issues they are dealing with in their lives. I praise Jesus for my salvation and redemption through His blood.
Thanks for reading all this, sometimes, I seem to start, and have trouble concluding without a long bit in between. I hope this gives someone some encouragement, some assurance, and the will to persist. I hope all of you manage to be a blessing to others today as well.