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Friday, May 6, 2016

Take a closer look

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


In this day and age of reuse, repurpose or recycle, deconstruction is all the rage. There may be a treasure trove in the old siding or in the 100-year-old glass, still unbroken after a century of battling heat, cold, rain, sleet and winds that would bend the strongest of branches.

In this old place we call home (sanctuary may be a better word), the old siding and old window glass is still being used for their intended purposes and we don't have any plans, short or long-term, to change that.

But my life may need some deconstruction.

I'll be on "staycation" next week and although I'm not planning to take a sledge-hammer to any of these old walls, it may well be time to move some of the furniture around, and reposition some items. Change the perspective, sharpen the focus of a room or two and then step back to check the final outcome.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I frequently changed the furniture around. The dimensions of the living room were somewhat constrictive, but I found that any number of arrangements of a single couch, an overstuffed chair, end tables and bookshelves were possible. Not all of them, however, were practical, and many was the time that I would have to put things back where they were almost as soon as I had moved the final piece.

It's hard to say what inspired these changes, maybe a glance through a decorating magazine while waiting at the doctor's office for a well-baby check, maybe I thumbed through one standing in line at the checkout line. However it came about, Danny would leave with the room looking one way and return to an entirely different arrangement. Since he worked in the city and we lived 35 miles away from his daily grind, he took a few quick minutes at the noon hour to call home to make sure all was well with his bride and three small children. This was years before the advent of cell phones and I only called him in case of a bona fide emergency, so I always looked forward to the noon hour call.

Except for that one day.

I had decided I was tired of having to figure in the padded bar that jutted out between the kitchen and the living room. It had shelves, accessible only from the kitchen side and I thought if I removed the faux Naugahyde covering I could access the shelves from either room and make both rooms more attractive. As that deconstruction progressed I began to realize that the plan was flawed because of the built-in nature of the divider. When Danny called at the noon hour, my first question was "How much do you like the padded bar?"

Thankfully, he didn't really have an opinion either way but he was curious as to why I would ask.

"Well, if I stop now I think I can put it back together. If I keep going the way I'm going, it's going to be gone."

He just chuckled and left the decision up to me. By the time he got home, it was gone and entire living space where we spent most of our waking hours had undergone a dramatic change. I never regretted deconstructing that bar.

There are times in our lives when it is good to step back and look at things under a different light, from a different perspective. It's easier by far to just stay the course, to keep doing what we've been doing the same way we've always done it, largely because practice makes permanent. And change is hard.

But what if there was a miscalculation along the way? What if one piece of the bedrock foundation was flawed in some way?

What if our completely comfortable, completely practical, completely livable furniture arrangement is simply 90 degrees off and if by making that 90 degree change we discover something more than comfortable, something more than practical, something more that simply livable was possible all along?

It's all too easy to just stay the course and trust that the rudder is true. But it may not be wise. Sailors of old, those who dared take to the high seas, knew that they must frequently take new bearings, to make certain that they hadn't been swept off-course by rogue waves or fickle winds.

They looked to the heavens and checked their position against the position of the stars to make sure that they were still on a course that would lead them safely home. Wise pilots, those who dare to take to the skies today, do the same thing, not putting their faith in the instruments alone, but checking their positions all along their course by looking at the landmarks far below them.

Those of us on the journey home to heaven should take as much care as the sailor of old and the pilot of today. We, too, need to double-check our forward progress against the unmoving and unchanging positions of faith, in case our rudder isn't running true. The traditions of men and the teaching of some can run counter to truth and the safe harbor they promise may be only a mirage.

Or it may be that we're in a completely comfortable, completely practical, completely livable arrangement, all the while unaware that a simple rearrangement is all that stands between us and an extraordinary, breathtaking, life-infusing relationship that changes the way we look at everything.

We'll only know if we dare to deconstruct, just a little. We'll only know if we dare to look and check our position by the unchanging word of the Lord. We'll only know if we look first to the One who provides the path and the light by which we can see it.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (NIV)

I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.


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