A little over a year ago, I ventured into the neighborhood next to mine to take walks. I noticed that a lot of the homes were in various states of disrepair. I prayed that people would receive the resources to fix up their homes and that the neighborhood would improve. In my mind, I imagined that homeowners would receive enough money for repairs, renovations, and landscaping, but I think the Lord answered my prayer in a different way.
A few months ago—just before the weather turned a bit cold—the Lord helped me see the changes that were occurring. A number of the old, shabby homes had been torn down, and new homes were already established on the lots. There were some homes that were renovated, but I think there were more demolished homes than renovated ones.
I admit that I was disappointed and a bit sad to see so many homes torn down. I love seeing old homes renovated into a new sort of glory so that they’re ready for their second life. I remember thinking, “Completely new homes aren’t what I prayed for. I hoped the old ones would be renovated.” I felt guilty for being critical about how the changes had occurred.
Today, as I walked around the neighborhood, I saw the changes with a new perspective. I realized that sometimes, it is best for a home to be completely torn down and a new creation built in its place.
I remembered the verses in the Bible that define the Lord as the potter and his people as the clay. It’s the Lord’s authority to determine if he will refine what he has already created or if he will start over and build something new:
So I went down to the potter’s house; he was working on the potter’s wheel. But the piece he was making was flawed while still in his hands, so the potter started on another, as seemed best to him. Then the LORD’s word came to me: House of Israel, can’t I deal with you like this potter, declares the LORD? Like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine, house of Israel! At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom; but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I’ll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it. At the same time, I may announce that I will build and plant a nation or kingdom (Jeremiah 18: 3–7).
In the Christian life, the most obvious spiritual demolition occurs when someone transitions from being a non-believer to a believer. After that, the Lord continues to refine the individual so that he is a better version of the person the Lord originally saved—similar to the way a new heating or electrical system, a new roof, fresh paint, and good landscaping can bring an old home back to life.
I think demolition also occurs after salvation. The individual has been saved, but perhaps, elements of his character, habits, and mind need to be completely torn down and built back up.
All of this reminds me of a devotional I used to read by Oswald Chambers. In it, he writes, “Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him.” I looked for the Lord to manifest restoration in the neighborhood in a particular way. And because I looked for what I imagined was the best outcome, I did not see the changes he initiated until months after they occurred.
What a sad thing it is to miss a move of God and his answers to prayer simply because he did not meet my notions for a renewed neighborhood. But, nonetheless, I am thankful because what exists now is far better than what existed before.