Active Faith

Renovation of the Heart

"AND the one sitting on the throne said, 'Look, I am making everything new.'" – Revelation 21:5 by Captain Catherine Fitzgerald

Jesus knocked. He knocked again.

I heard Him calling out, “My child! My child!” I look around the room one last time. Everything looked good. It looked ready. “I can let Jesus in now,” I thought to myself. I straightened my clothes, checked myself in the mirror and took a big breath.

I opened the door and there He was. I was nervous, unsure of how He would accept me. But He was there, huge smile on His face, His arms open wide, ready to embrace me. Not one of those half hugs either. With a big bear hug, He held me tight, and I felt this unexplainable warmth. Then He patted me on the back as if to say, “I’m ready. Let’s go in.”

As I moved aside and allowed Jesus to enter, I looked around my living room. I had let many into this space before. It had looked so neat and tidy just a few minutes ago but as Jesus entered and brightened the room, I saw how dingy it really was. I saw stains on my carpet, cracks in my wall, cobwebs in every corner. How had I not noticed them before? The closer I looked, the worse it got! There weren’t just stains, there were holes! It was as if every person who had ever hurt me had left their mark in my living room. Then I remembered that even I had done some of the damage. I had so conveniently hidden it but it was all uncovered now.

Everything was falling apart! I was mortified as I looked to Jesus to see how He would react to this embarrassing disrepair. But He didn’t seem to mind. His smile was as large as ever. His eyes were bright as He took my hand. I sheepishly said to Him, “Jesus, my house could use some work.”

We like to think we can hide our sin, but when Jesus enters our heart, it is all visible to Him and He makes it visible to us. The sin of pride, lust, jealousy, or hate hides in our heart and we like to pretend it’s not there. Often, the further we are on the journey of following Jesus, the better we are at hiding it! But Jesus doesn’t just want us to hide it, He wants to remove it completely. We start by acknowledging its presence and bringing it to Jesus.

Jesus looked at me, His eyes showing even more excitement and He said, “I thought you’d never ask. Home repair is my specialty.” I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn’t going to do this alone, and I started picking things up and gathered some tools for patching. But Jesus stopped me in my tracks. “I’ve got bigger plans…what if we made the room bigger?”  

“Bigger?” I looked around and realized how small it was. It had always seemed just right until Jesus entered. His presence filled up the space and yes, if He was going to live here, it should be bigger. He asked if He could move this wall here and that wall there. I suggested a window but instead He added a door. Brick by brick, piece by piece, He renovated my living room. He did it with me, asking my permission for everything. I would have been ashamed of the amount of trash under the couch, or dust on the mantel but His loving care made it seem insignificant. Nothing surprised Him. He kept saying things like, “I’ve seen it all before.”

The room was getting better. I wasn’t sure about Jesus’ design before we started but once it all came together, it was amazing. It was better His way. I’m so glad I trusted Him. Often, we have certain expectations of what our life should be like. Sometimes God’s plans might be bigger or bolder than we would expect on our own. For others, God might be inviting us to bring more people under our influence. Maybe sometimes those people act different, look different, and have different struggles than we are used to, and God is inviting us to make more space for them in our lives.

Just when I thought we were almost done, He said, “What about the kitchen? What if we go in there?” I know that if Jesus went in there, we would certainly need to remodel the kitchen as well. Jesus agreed. I thought it was a bit personal to have Jesus working in my kitchen. Afterall, He was my guest. I should be serving Him and instead He is cleaning out my fridge! I started to object but then I remembered, He isn’t my guest. He wants to live here permanently; this is His house too. It was painful changing the place where I spent so much time and found so much comfort. I’m sure glad Jesus was there because I would not have been able to do it on my own. 

One of Jesus’ gifts is to take something that is broken and unusable and make it into something whole and beautiful. Like the broken chair He turned into a stool, or the tuneless piano remodeled into a desk. My new house is filled with reminders of who I used to be, turned into beautiful expressions of how God can still use me. Nothing is wasted.

When Jesus put it back together, there was no sink—no source of water. When I suggested a sink, He reminded me what I already knew, that He is the living water. But a sink? I mean, just in case! What if He has to step out once in a while? What if He is not here when I need him? “I will always be with you, my child,” He reminded me.

And He didn’t put in a pantry either. There was just enough room for the food for today. “I am the bread of life” He reminded me. I know, I know. Why is it so easy to look outside of Jesus for my needs? I thanked Jesus for promising to be with me and I decided to trust Him for just one day at a time. Do I really need more than that?

Often when we are feeling discouraged or frustrated, we look to worldly ways of finding comfort. Sometimes we try everything before we bring it to the source of life and comfort himself, Jesus. Jesus and I went on to renovate my bedroom, the closets, even the storage room and garage.  It was hard inviting Jesus into each space, trusting Him with my secrets, my baggage. But every time, He said to me, “My child, I’ve seen it all before.” He made me feel so at ease, so comfortable with His ways. 

Now Jesus has free reign in the house. It’s more His house than mine. He made it just what I needed and especially for me, but it was His plan. Just when I thought He was all done, He came back to me with that joyful smile and said, “What if we made it even bigger?” And I knew we were about to start all over again. Have you invited Jesus into your heart? When Jesus enters, what do you think He sees? Who do you think Jesus wants you to be?

What is your relationship with Jesus like? Do you spend time together? Do you communicate with Him? If you were to spend time with Jesus, in what part of the house would you be with Him? What would it look like? Has Jesus visited your darkest closets? Have you invited Him to clean them out? What does He want to say to you about them? In what ways does Jesus make our hearts bigger? Is there a way that Jesus is inviting you to join Him in some renovations of your heart? 

Captain Catherine Fitzgerald serves as a Corps Officer in New Albany, IN.

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