As coronavirus grabbed the attention of our nation and Ohio was asked to shelter at home, our circa 1825 & 1928 home was in the midst of a face-lift. It’s a charming brick and shaker shingle farm home that has been added onto over the past 200 years, resulting in today’s 10 fireplaces (we only use four), four staircases, hidden closet cubbies and the lore of being part of the Underground Railroad. Most of the home’s character comes from the tradesmen who came before, sharing their talents through the carved and etched wood and plaster adorning our walls and floors. We vetted many contractors to find those who would contribute to her aging-allure, with the opportunity to eliminate the choppy flow of rooms and update the plumbing.
It was during these renovations that our craftsmen discovered layer upon layer of wallpaper. Room by room, day by day, different methods were attempted: from liquid solutions sponged on to loosen top layers; or steamers percolating in hopes of softening half-century-old glue; and putty knives carefully jabbed and pried corners in hopes a small piece would unbind, allowing a large strip of paper to be removed at once. And it was in these small crevices that once pulled back, another design and color palette was revealed, another layer that a bygone homeowner painstakingly picked out and cherished was uncovered, that we needed to remove to get to a fresh surface.
If I apply this same, slow and meticulous remodeling approach to myself, what might I uncover in the small crevices of my soul and belief system? What existing problems have been swept under the rug and are now apparent as the normal buffers and distractions are no longer available? What areas have I been labeled “successful” before, but when closely examined looks more selfish than selfless? What relationships do I need to forgive, as forgiveness will never be asked? As a new surface is revealed, how does it lend itself to where I’ve been tempted to fall into the world’s motivations instead of God’s ways:
- When I exercise – is it for me to stay healthy and physically strong, or am I over-valuing my outward appearance?
- When I call, text, or attend video conferences with friends, am I staying on the surface, or am I pointing out Truth?
- Am I isolating into my family or reaching out to friends and new neighbors, even at six feet apart, to share our lives?
- Am I peeling apart generational habits that aren’t beneficial for me to continue? Likewise, am I celebrating and teaching lessons from my parents and grandparents?
All this extra time has allowed me to catch up on reading and listening to podcasts. A recent teaching* was on how our bodies are in perfect connection with the world (as in the devil, our body and the world are all on the same team!), and how we need to call on the spirit to fight against the temptations that the layers of our flesh desperately says yes to.
“For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code”. Romans 7:5-6
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”. John 10:10
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. 1 Peter 5:8
In Jesus’ final hours, He asks Peter and the other disciples to watch over him for one hour while he prays alone: “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41. In doing so, He teaches generations to come how to avoid temptation – keep watch and pray. Not to rely on our self, but to ask others to pray for us and to reach out for God’s strength to defeat the enemy’s power. As Believers, we also have the Advocate to fight for us. The Holy Spirit and the flesh battle each other, both appealing to my mind, emotions, and will. They both know my weaknesses and my triggers, and it’s the enemy that prowls around waiting for my vulnerable time to taunt and tempt me.
I am hopeful, as followers of Christ, that we reach out to God and lean-in to the Spirit during this pandemic. We use this time to strip away layers of worldly muck, strive for deeper conversations, and look different on the other side of this world-wide remodel, let us glow with the Spirit: “To make us even happier, God sent His Holy Spirit into our lives to comfort us. The Holy Spirit has a happy knack for supernaturally lifting our burdens. But wait, it gets even better…The Bible says that the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in us is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .” (Galatians 5:22–23). There is that joy word again. We have both the joy of Jesus and the joy of the Holy Spirit.” ** God uses all things for His good (Romans 8:28). Is there any habit or belief He is nudging you to examine? As Peter reminds us: “Resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9
* Crossroads Church, Cincinnati, OH “Critical Skills Repentance”.
** Kris Vallatton “Are you happy? I mean really happy?” blog 4/18/2020
Originally published on Goodwordproject.com