There is a lot not far from my mother’s house that has been empty for years. There is a pretty wooden sign in the front indicating the building company who owns the lot but little else has been done for a few years now there. In those years other houses have been torn down and rebuilt around it, but that lot has remained the same. It’s a pretty space. The lot is fairly deep with trees lining the back of it. The houses around it are all charming and different looking. The elementary school my siblings and I attended is on the next block. It’s not far from downtown.
Every time I drive by it I’m drawn to it and find myself daydreaming about the house I would build on that lot. The builder’s sign out front isn’t your standard metal sign. It’s artistic and well crafted. I think I’d like the builder’s style. There’s a lot of potential on that lot.
It’s a completely cleared lot, ready and waiting for a home to be built on it and it’s perplexing as to why it’s remained in this state for so long.
I feel a kinship to that lot.
The last few years have been a tearing down of sorts for me. A clearing of the lot, if you will. I’ve come to realize in the last few years that my faith was built on a faulty foundation. It wasn’t all bad, and it was built with good intentions, but faulty nonetheless. I built my faith house on that bad foundation and then kept living in it. Over the years I pursued spiritual growth and transformation, and I did find those things. But that growth was like renovating a kitchen in a house built on a bad foundation. Things looked and felt a lot better, but it didn’t really stop my house from crumbling when the storm came.
And, crumble it did.
Once it all fell down around me I had two choices, walk away from the mess that was faith and God all together, or clear the lot and start brand new.
There were many, many days when I entertained option A.
But, well, something made me stay. At first it was a job that required faith in God and His church (or at least required participation in them). Then it was a family and friendships, kids I’d been raising to believe and trust in Jesus. And soon I found myself doing the hard work of tearing down the remains of that house of faith and clearing the lot. This meant letting go of beliefs that were prisons for my spirit, separating the majors from the minors, and distinguishing the expressions of one branch of the Faith from the Faith itself. It looked like a lot of unknowing, unbelieving, unlearning.
And the faith I’m left with… it looks a lot like that cleared lot.
I learned last week at an Advent service that Advent marks the beginning of a new church year. While all around me calendars are wrapping up 2017, here, in the church, it’s New Year’s Day. And for my own faith, as I enter into Advent this year, that feels fitting. I am ready for a new year, a new beginning, a fresh start.
For the first time that cleared lot has become a picture of hope for me. The hard, overwhelming work of tearing down, throwing away, letting go has been done. I am a fresh slate, ready and waiting for a new home to be built. This time around I’ve learned from my mistakes and I enter into it all with eyes wide open. This time around I’m paying most attention to the foundation. It doesn’t matter what the rooms look like if I don’t get that part right. I’m praying to build that part well and slowly, taking great care in the work so that when the next storm comes my faith can weather it. Next time the God I know and understand will be big and strong enough to withstand it.
Here’s to Advent, to new years and fresh starts.