Thursday, July 10, 2014

Condemnation to Renovation

Watchword for the week of July 13, 2014

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

When my husband and I were first married, our inaugural apartment might have been known euphemistically as “graduate school housing,” but we affectionately referred to the place as “The Tenement.” The rundown 2-story had at one time been a single-family dwelling, but had long since been converted into multiple units. We occupied the main level and were privileged to have access to the cellar, a subterranean cave we could peer at through wide gaps between the splintery pine floorboards. We legitimately feared getting our feet caught in the holes and breaking our ankles.  Down there in the dank recesses was an abandoned shower stall. Former tenants told legendary tales of all the bars of soap that had been gnawed on and dragged away by nocturnal critters. The floor above our living space housed 2 additional apartments, and every time one of those neighbors entered or exited, our windows would rattle as though they might have been perched directly atop the San Andreas Fault. By far, our favorite amenity was the refrigerator which, and I swear this is true, contained NO shelves. Storing food was an ongoing game of Jenga.

Fairly regularly, one of us would turn to the other and say, “I’m pretty sure this place is on the verge of being condemned.”

A condemned structure is a doomed structure. A damned structure.  Irreparable, irredeemable, hopeless. The foundation has crumbled, the joists have rotted. Neither Bob Villa, nor Norm Abram, nor any of the celebrity hosts in the HGTV line-up would be willing to take it on.  Das ist kaputt.

Speaking in all seriousness about condemned, kaput buildings, the photo below was taken at this time last year when my friends’ home was crushed under the weight of an ancient tree uprooted during a summer storm. Though quite miraculously no one was injured in this disaster, building a replacement home on the footprint of such devastation proved to be a healing (if not often daunting) task.

Condemnation. Can you imagine a soul so wrecked, so damaged, so without merit as to be irreparable, irredeemable, hopeless?  Apparently, Jesus cannot.

Sometimes our situations are so grim that we need to rebuild our lives from the ground up. Sometimes, it’s more a matter of remodeling. And sometimes it’s really just redecorating. The size and scope of the problem determines the size and scope of the solution, I suppose. No matter, when we seek to redo something—anything—about our brokenness, it is the Spirit of life in Christ (Romans 8:2) that revokes the order to vacate the premises and gives us hope to imagine and achieve a fresh renovation.

*I offer prayers of gratitude to God for the Spies family on the 1-year anniversary of the event that will have forever marked time in their lives, and I give credit and thanks to Jennifer Spies for allowing me to use her photo.

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