When Jesus Runs the Remodel
by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
My man and I have just finished making over our master bathroom. Over the years, I’ve noticed we go through three stages in almost every home-improvement job we tackle: let’s do it; why on earth are we doing it; and praise God Almighty, we did it!
For a while, it seemed we’d never get out of Stage Two on this one. It was hard to remember why we were doing it when mortar dust started blanketing everything in sight, despite the plastic sheeting that was supposed to contain it to one room, but our enthusiasm took a direct hit the day the water pipe busted. Water plus mortar equals mud.
To double the fun, it was my speaking and traveling season. I was meeting myself coming and going during those long weeks of remodeling, and my beloved hubby, along with our contractor, was asking me questions over the phone that were way above my pay grade. (That’s okay, I may have asked Mr. Contractor a few questions during that long season, too. Like, “Hey Ronnie, which of these necklaces do you like with this outfit?”)
And yet, glory hallelujah, Stage Three finally arrived. We did it! Stage Two may have been hard, but we love Stage Three. When we look at it now, we’re incredibly pleased with what we see.
As believers, you and I are kind of like Stage Two—works in progress. And yes, we’re a major home-improvement job, but God the Father and God the Son counted the cost, paid the bill in full, and together they’re enjoying the process of renovating our lives. Even as Jesus completes the good work He began in us, He and His Father are pleased with what they see. Oh, feast with me here.
Phil and I were pleased once our remodel was finished, but Jesus is pleased to live with you and me in the messy middle of our renovation! Is He pleased with our every action? That answer should be obvious, but we’ll leave the biblical equivalent of a pink elephant here if we don’t address it.
Throughout the church age, there’s been often-repeated concern: Be careful in teaching on grace and God’s willingness to forgive again and again lest you encourage people to think they can give in to the desires of the flesh, live any way they choose, and still be secure in their faith.
I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’m not speaking to those looking for permission to live a sloppy Christian life. I’ve got this conviction that says if you want to be rebellious and disobedient, you will be.
But if you’re reading these words, I believe you want what I want—to know how to stop doing what we don’t want to do, start doing what we do want to do, and experience the full measure of our salvation. Such a life comes only out of deep realization that we are, right now, righteous in God’s sight through our faith in Jesus’ great sacrifice. Full conviction of our wholly undeserved place in God’s favor produces ongoing humility and encourages grateful communion. We want to live for Him because He died for us. Savoring the full extent of His gift to us, woven with the goal of living to know one more thing about Him to add to our growing treasure—this is what changes moments, moods, and men.
So, no, God isn’t pleased with our disobedience, but our Father can separate who we are from what we do. We’re fallible parents, and yet we understand this when it relates to our own children. Am I right?
A few years ago, our immediate family enjoyed a delicious meal together. We adults were washing up the dishes when my son’s middle child wandered through the kitchen in different clothes than she had been wearing when they arrived. Her parents exchanged glances. Carlisle had been potty trained for quite a while, but she was currently regressing. She’d get busy playing, wait too long, and, well, there you go. (Pun intended.)
This doting grandmother understands accidents happen. Her parents do, too, but they’re tasked with helping their girl to remember. They knew Carlisle had found the extra set of little girl’s clothes in the laundry room, and they knew why she’d pulled a switcheroo. Phillip stopped his little one in her tracks. “Carlisle Mae,” he said. “Did you change clothes?”
Carlisle’s attempt to disarm her daddy with a cheesy grin was unsuccessful. The clock was ticking.
“Carlisle,” Philip repeated. “Did you wet your pants?”
Carlisle is the owner of a thousand expressions, and she keeps us on our toes. Her well-thought-out response didn’t permanently put off her moment of reckoning, but every one of us had to turn around and compose ourselves when she replied, “Maybe . . .”
Isn’t this how most of us come to the subject of obedience? Tell me how bad the repercussions will be, and I’ll tell you what I have or haven’t done. That is religion’s version of obedience. Jesus turned the whole subject upside down when He died so He could live in us and empower us to obey. The more we abide in Him and marinate in His amazing love, the more of what we do responds to who He purposed us to be. Crazy cool. God looks upon us with pleasure when we are in Christ Jesus. Together they celebrate what Jesus announced on the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
Hear them now, looking at us in the middle of our renovation (the doctrinal word is “sanctification”), surveying the work of the Cross, and announcing with joy, “We did it!” This is the reality of Jesus. He is our everything, our all in all, the very Holy of Holies living in us, meant to walk through this life with us, transforming us by His company. Oh, blessed are the ex-tryharders who learn to guzzle His grace in this dry and thirsty land!
An incurable storyteller and bona fide people lover, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an award- winning author and Bible teacher using her gift of humor to connect instantly and easily with a wide variety of audiences. She and her husband, Phil, live and farm in Lake Providence, Louisiana. http://belleofallthingssouthern.com
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.