Renovations of the Heart, A Refreshing Tonic for the Weary Soul

February 27
12:56 2024
Renovations of the Heart, A Refreshing Tonic for the Weary Soul
Kharis Publishing announces the release of ‚ÄúRenovated: How God Makes Us Christlike” by Matt Aroney, a deeply refreshing tonic for the weary soul.

Sometimes modern Western countries are called deeply secular, but I think one look inside bathroom shops can prove that is incorrect. When we were renovating our house, we needed to make all kinds of decisions about every little detail; the bathroom was no exception. But when we walked into one of the up-market Australian bathroom shops we were confronted with what was more a temple than a store.

At the time we walked in, they were running a promotion called the “Happiness Project”. A life-sized poster of a young woman met us at the door, her lips a perfect shade of red lipstick, her face flawless, her hair lightly unkempt. Around her countenance droplets of water hovered in mid-air as if suspended in unending bliss. We caught her as she washes her face in the morning, her hands having just refreshingly splashed her pink complexion. One step inside the door we were inducted into the true way of bathroom styling, the search not for practicality or simply a clean body, but for a type of divine bliss, in which the quest for the perfect bathroom is the quest for happiness itself.

As you look further, you are given paths for achieving the same type of happiness. Here, cleansing is no longer physical, it is deeply spiritual. Water transforms us, connecting us back to nature and bringing about change. Reaching beyond the mere physical, water enhances our emotional wellbeing. It has the power to calm, to restore and to rejuvenate us. The heart of a bathroom is a type of emotional restoration of the human self from the chaos of its day.

We are not simply trying to get the mud out from between our toes, we are trying to wring out our despair, to cope without conflicts and soothe the sores of our soul. Switch into Zen mode and enter a world of escape. Bliss out in the bath and take a few long, slow minutes to breathe, dream and reflect. Soft swirls of water will send you upon a cleansing ritual that clears the mind and initiates new beginnings.Here we have a type of Western materialistic spirituality at its true height. The decision to match the bronze fixtures, the backlit bathroom mirror, and the Persian tile are no longer a matter of taste. If we get the combination right, we will find peace.

Now, of course this is not true. Or is it? We search in the contours of our house for the substance of spirituality we lack within ourselves. Perhaps we could reverse the thinking for a moment. Perhaps then we can come to a spiritual truth that will aid us. What if our houses are not the place of our fulfilment, but instead are a map to understanding our own souls?

Such was my experience of renovating our house. It was deeply spiritual, but the spirituality did not come from the materials in the house so much as from the way it made me honestly reflect upon the state of my soul.

Imagine your soul is a house for a minute. What rooms would it be made up of? What would be luxurious or poor? Are there skeletons in the closest in the attic? Are there rooms which have suffered from neglect? We overbalance our lives so easily. We invest ourselves wholly in our work, in a romantic relationship, or in our travel. Such living can lead to other broken parts in our lives, our relationships, our mental and physical selves. We can build walls that separate things that should be kept together, creating mosaics of pieces that no longer fit in the same puzzle.

Looking at your soul or perhaps the elements of your house as if it is a floorplan can be very instructive. A floorplan is the unvarnished truth of a place; it is different from the brochures and photographs; it presents important questions like: What is this house for? Who lives in it… not just some parts of it, but all of it?

I am a big believer in renovation, remaking, renewal, and that what has been made can be made beautiful again. Our renovation changed for me the day I realized what it could spiritually teach me. 

Renovating was a stressful time. As someone accustomed to comfort, I found many things to complain about along the way – the inconveniences of life in a half-finished house, the lack of hot water, the unending admin, the exhaustion of always making decisions. It is my automatic response to dislike everything that brings forms of discomfort my way.

But one day, the renovation project changed for me. It no longer felt so much like an interruption as one continuous metaphor. It was like I was living in a scale model of my own soul. When perfectly good floorboards needed to be taken up because of an unknown problem underneath, I considered what might be hiding beneath my neat exterior. When we realized we had no stormwater drainage and had to dig up what was there, I wondered what deeper issues God was dealing with inside me. When I needed to dig up the dirt in the backyard for hour upon hour on my days off, I meditated on the need for the soil of my heart to be broken up so that new things could happen. This became a time of waking me up to the fact that I am a renovation site. I am a work in progress.

I suspect this could be a crushing thought, if it all came down to me, if I had to make the plan and supply the energy. The greatest discovery, as I watched many people pull my house apart and put it back together, is that there was someone at work in me, moving things toward their own design without me even realizing. They had spotted problems they wanted to fix before I even realized they were there.

There is a God who has a plan for my house and a design which he is moving in his power to complete. In the end, I could honestly deal with what I found in myself because I knew I was loved and that there was someone who would bring about something beautiful in the mess in me. The bible speaks of God “transforming” his people, “renewing them”. It is the work of God’s Spirit within us to move things into a design he has for us all: To be like Jesus.

God is into fixer-uppers. We need not change our faucets to find bliss; he will happily dwell in the mess of our house with us, moving and shaping. We need only call out to him, as the Psalmist did, asking to see what he sees and for him to complete his work: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

About Renovated

Renovated: How God makes us Christlike, explores how God is working in your life. It is difficult to see the presence of God in the complexities of life, and we may be unaware of it, but God is deeply, profoundly moving within us. We are a house, he has a renovation plan, our Father is showing us more of Jesus, so we can mirror Jesus. All of this is the work of his Spirit! It is not about what we do; it is how he is already transforming us, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians. Gain a larger vision of Jesus in your life, and of your life itself, as you learn and think about the “renovating” work of God.

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