Monday, September 10, 2007

The Tear Down/Tear Out Lesson

A few weeks ago I was pondering on how the remodeling mess around our house with the torn out carpet, floors, and baseboards was truly wearing at my nerves and adding to my exhausted feelings. As I was thinking of that, God immediately placed thoughts of great truth in my mind. He revealed to me that there must be a tear down/tear out process in order to build something or create something better. I thought of how the old, the not as good, must be torn out to make room for the better things. I thought of God’s work in the tear out/remodeling process of our family and especially of myself in the last seven years. There has been a immense amount of tearing out and tearing down, reshaping and renewing; but I am understanding better each day how necessary it has all been to make room for the better and best to take its place.

The tear down/tear out process is a very messy one and things appear to be in shambles, and it’s hard to envision that things are ever going to look or be better than they were before. Tear out is as much work or even more work than the rebuilding or re-creating. It is BROKENNESS work; tearing apart to get things out that have been glued solidly down tightly for years. However, they must be pulled up and removed to make room for the better and best things—the more beautiful things to come. Do we truly believe and have unshakeable faith that God has even greater truths of Himself to reveal and better plans for us than what we already have today? Faith is an assumption of what is being expected, a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed…” (Hebrews 11:1)

It was a very difficult and time consuming task pulling up certain sections of our flooring because there were strips of thin wood every few feet that were stapled down with what seemed and felt to us like a million staples (and it probably was at the least!). This had to all be chipped away bit by bit. When it was time to pull out the old counter tops, we spent hours just trying to find the screws that were deeply embedded into the wood so that we could unscrew them and remove the counter tops. Some of the screws were impossible to find because they were hidden so deep; therefore, the counter tops had to literally be beat upwards with a mallet to get them to come all the way off. That was not a pleasant process; tile was flying everywhere, and it was all quite stressful to us. How much are we resisting God’s hands upon us as He works at removing the old deeply ingrained within us? How hard are we hanging on to what He knows is of a hindrance to us and His best for us? What do we continue to hide deep within?

The whole tear out process creates a huge mess that must be cleaned up, swept up and away, thrown out, and hauled far, far away. We cannot hang on to any of the debris or broken pieces; it’s all utterly useless to us and a hindrance to what’s to come. You can’t put new and better things on top of debris; it will make the new unstable and not as durable. Any left over debris would make a weak foundation. It is critical that all of it is cleaned up and thrown away never to be looked upon again or brought back to use or hold on to. Even Jesus referred to this vital truth of not trying to put the new on top of the old. He said to the disciples, “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16-17) Are we still refusing to let go of some things that are creating a weak foundation on God’s work in our lives? Are we trying to keep something old as part of the new work He is doing in our lives?

Our garage was filled with all the old things we tore out. We could hardly walk through it and had to call for someone to bring a dumpster to our driveway so that we could put all the old, torn out flooring and counter tops into it and have it hauled away. We have no idea where the dumpster was taken and all the garbage ultimately dumped; it is of no importance to us or our remodeling work. The new floor and counter tops were installed and we no longer have any need of those things or have any thoughts of ever going to search for them to bring them back to our home. Yuk! So are we allowing God to take our debris and truly dump it far from us? Are we dumping it all at His feet and letting Him haul it away permanently? As far as the east is from the west, so He removes our transgressions far from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

As I shared this lesson with my children this past Sunday, one of them commented on how comfortable our old carpet had been as opposed to the wood floor we now had. I agreed that the carpet had been cushier to lay and sit on; however, that is where its positive ended. The carpet held much dirt, germs, and hairs deep within it, and even though it was more comfortable it wasn’t the better of the two floors. In fact, when we pulled it up we were amazed at how much dirt had piled up underneath it. Isn’t that like us? We are comfortable in a certain situation, with certain ideas and ideals, habits, traditions, and routines. But are we living out GOD’s best for us? Or are we settling for what feels cushier, more comfortable with all the dirt entrenched deep within?

As we offer our hearts, souls, and lives up to God, He sets to work in “remodeling” us to be a clearer representation of His image and of His character for the rest of the world to see. He takes His mighty hands with which ALL things are possible and NOTHING is impossible, and He begins the process of removing from our hearts, minds, souls anything that falls short of HIS image and HIS plan of perfecting us IN HIM. He chips away at our false ideals and ideas and replaces them with His sovereign truths. He chips away at our traditions, habits, and routines and replaces them with His ways. He chips away at the idols of our lives and replaces them with Himself. He chips away at our sins and replaces them with His righteousness. Bit by bit, day by day, season by season, year by year He patiently and faithfully works within us, part by part, layer by layer prying up and sweeping away the old and creating HIS beautiful masterpiece within us. By no means does His grand work take place without us feeling the pressures and pains of the tearing down; some of which can actually feel excruciating to us. Often times we resist His work due to those pressures and pains we feel and as what was comfortable to us is removed in the process; but we are promised that we can consider it all joy to encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith is producing endurance. And that we must allow endurance to have its perfect way in our lives so that we may be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing that He has for us. HE IS remodeling us PERFECTLY. Great is HIS patience and faithfulness! Won’t we just stand in awe of Him now and praise Him for His work in our lives at this very moment? Thank you, great YHWH!

For HIS glory…

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