As previously noted, I’m not mechanical. Not even close. My dad, uncle (his brother) and paternal grandfather all were handymen, very skilled with their hands. Not me. If there’s such a thing as a “mechanic” gene, I’m lacking it. Under duress I can hammer a nail or turn a screw, but that’s it. And even those tasks require my most intense concentration.
So it comes as a surprise – even to me – that I find some of HGTV’s programming interesting. Particularly fixer-upper type shows. It’s not that I’m looking for “how-to” or DIY (do it yourself) tips. Because when you have two left thumbs, attempting repair or renovation projects around the home isn’t flirting with disaster. It’s an all-out romance with calamity.
Why then do I watch? Because it amazes me how the “experts” can take a wreck of a home and turn it into a residential work of art. And it involves more than paint and surface touches. Many of the projects have termite problems; wiring dating back to the early 20th century; décor that went out with the Kennedy administration; defective plumbing, and floor plans that look like they were conceived by three-year-olds with LEGOS.
As the designers and contractors guide would-be buyers and renters through various properties, explaining how they could perform the habitational equivalents of sow’s ears made into silk purses, I think, “No way. The only thing that could help that house (or apartment) would be utter demolition.” But by the end of the program, voila! They’re performed a makeover that would turn plastic surgeons emerald with envy.
Some of the housing transformations seem nothing short of miraculous. The homeowners could not have brought about the changes. They couldn’t even have envisioned them. And yet, when it’s all finished, everyone exclaims, “This is perfect! It’s more than we could have dreamed. I can’t believe it!”
In a very real sense this is what God desires to do in each of our lives. If we’re honest, we all admit we’re messed up. Not only are we unable to live up to God’s standards; we can’t even live up to our own. Have you ever intended to be kind and failed to do so? Have you ever admitted you weren’t nearly as loving or caring as you should be? Have you ever said that thing you can’t believe you said? Or have you ever realized your best intentions were just that – intentions never acted upon, therefore never realized?
There are misconceptions even within what’s commonly referred to as Christianity. One is that we’ve got to clean up our own act, to try to be deserving of God’s approval and acceptance. Good luck! That’s like trying to convince a rotted log it’s got to turn itself into material suitable for a beautiful hardwood floor. It’s not going to happen.
Some will respond, “Nobody’s perfect. God knows that, and accepts us just as we are.” Nice sentiments, but that concept is reflected nowhere in the Scriptures. Essentially it says God loves us as we are – but loves us too much to leave us that way. Because, as Isaiah 64:6 asserts, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” I won’t give you the literal meaning of “filthy rags,” but if you’re interested you can look it up. It’s not referring to dust cloths.
In case we’re tempted to dismiss that statement as being strictly for Old Testament people, Romans 3:10 declares, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” And it’s not just talking about politicians. The passage continues, “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless, there is no one who does good, not even one.” Wow! Don’t worry about “nobody’s perfect.” We’re light-years from that.
Reading this makes us want to echo the question of Jesus’ disciples: “Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18:26). Jesus responded with the answer that remains true today: “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
If there is a “secret” to the so-called Christian life, this is it. Living the life God requires isn’t difficult – it’s impossible in our own efforts. It requires, like the home improvement shows on TV, a complete makeover. A transformation. The good news is that God is in the transformation business. It’s His specialty.
That’s why it was necessary for Christ to go to the cross on our behalf, to be the sacrificial Lamb for us. Our sins, our debts, could be reconciled only by the direct, personal action of the one to whom we’re indebted, the one we’ve sinned against, the only one who could wipe the slate clean.
More than that, God wanted to offer not only life after death, but life before death. But to do that meant more than a little touch-up. Nothing short of a total transformation is sufficient. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” And Galatians 2:20 affirms that truth: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Not just a fresh coat of paint, a bit of plaster to cover up some holes in the wall, or a little duct tape. That’s hardly enough. God desires – and demands – a complete, total, extreme spiritual makeover. And He’s the only one that can achieve it.
Only then, as the apostle Paul wrote, can we be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). And God can say with authority, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
How’s your “makeover” coming along?
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.