Restoration or Renovation?
Marti Wibbels, MS, LMHC
I’ve had this desk since I was in second grade. Initially, I tried to hide my disappointment when my parents presented me with this wooden desk instead of the cardboard child's desk I’d requested. Unlike my friend’s disposable desk, my oak counterpart has survived decades, first providing a dollhouse behind its glass doors, then a table for writing letters and cubbies for storing a little girl’s treasures.
The desk has endured dozens of moves (coast-to-coast) and even survived a terrible renovation in the 1970s, when “antiquing” furniture was popular. My husband Alan and I decided it was time to give the desk an update—and “antiqued” it BLUE! After admiring our blue desk for several years, it became clear we’d ruined an authentic antique. The desk’s eventual restoration was a process of painstakingly removing layers of “gunk” to reveal the hidden gem underneath.
During each episode of HGTV’s popular design show, Restored, preservationist Brett Waterman enthusiastically discovers hidden beauty beneath historically ignorant additions or renovations to California houses. After searching architectural records for their original designs, Waterman meticulously uncovers each home’s incredibly unique story.
In his July 3 message, Christian Foundation: What is the Good News? Rev. Ruffin Stepp said, “You can’t restore something if you don’t know how it was built.” John Adams, the first United States President to move into the White House, wrote his wife Abigail, "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” We need restoration. We need guidance. We can discover God’s promise of restoration in His Word, the Bible: He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).
In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt stated: “After a week [working] on perplexing problems...it does so rest my soul to come into the house of The Lord and to sing and mean it, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty'...(My) great joy and glory that, in occupying an exalted position in the nation, I am enabled, to preach the practical moralities of The Bible to my fellow-countrymen and to hold up Christ as the hope and Savior of the world.”
Wherever each of us is this Independence Day, we can choose new perspectives, perhaps thinking of our lives as needing a Dependence Day. Few of us want to be known as “dependent,” yet that’s precisely what Jesus tells us to be: If anyone wishes to follow Me [as my disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests] and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] (Matthew 16:24, AMP).
Oswald Chambers wrote, “The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-assertiveness...God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself, He cannot. ‘Let him deny himself’—deny his independent right to himself, then the real life has a chance to grow...Jesus Christ emancipates the personality, and the individuality is transfigured; the transfiguring element is love, personal devotion to Jesus. Love is the outpouring of one personality in fellowship with another personality.”
Amidst a world in turmoil, we can ask God to show us how share His love and hope. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1988 to 1991), fifteen independent republics were formed, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. During that time, our dear friend, the late Sam Ericsson, JD, gave up his position as president of the Christian Legal Society to form Advocates International, a nonprofit designed to help emerging Soviet bloc countries develop sound constitutions.
God created you with purpose. Ask Him how you can help. My friend Nilce traveled to Israel this summer, teaching kids at a summer camp. She went to Africa last summer, using her vacation to help children there. You could do something as basic as calling or texting someone to say, “thank you,” provide a meal for someone with Covid, mow a neighbor’s yard—or step way outside your comfort zone to help at a refugee camp. Wherever we are, we can pray diligently for those who are suffering. When we pray, God shows us how to invest the unique gifts He has given us. Learning to depend on God doesn’t destroy personality; it transforms it. In a world shattered by wars, famine, violence, division, and hate, transformation is an essential component of growth.