In May we moved into a thirty-five year old house in an oak grove, just outside the Edmond city limits. I love the personality and quirky features found in older houses and I’m enjoying the quiet, the shady, mature trees and the wildlife. We have turkeys, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, rabbits and songbirds galore. Not going to mention the mice and the snakes. We also have old wiring, old pipes, unfortunate wall colors, cabinet doors that don’t close quite right, and design decisions made long, long ago that no longer make much sense.
DIY projects in older homes are legion, which is my cup of tea, but also a very great danger. I dive into projects with the zeal of an Olympic swimmer. The importance of meals, laundry and housework recede into a hazy fog as I focus singly on the task at hand. Alas, other things recede as well. Spending time with the Lord becomes sporadic, squeezed out by whatever latest fire needs extinguishing. I know God understands that moving means chaos and if you haven’t found your bedroom furniture yet, you might not know where your quiet time paraphernalia is either. I’m not talking about missing once or twice. I get into trouble when I’m so overwhelmed with my many projects that my neglect becomes a pattern. And I don’t usually recognize I’m in that pattern until I realize I'm exhausted and depressed. Amazingly, I am surprised every time this happens, as if I couldn’t anticipate the result of disconnecting my branch from the vine to embark on a walk about. It’s not until I’m drained—bereft of even the desire for God—that I realize that something is not quite right. I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but for crying out loud...you'd think I'd notice when I'm not even in the drawer!
I am reminded of the Israelites and the record our Father left us as an example. How they saw God’s power and provision again and again as He battled and provided for them; how they somehow forgot God when they became successful; how they fell into trouble and idolatry and bondage. I may not have a Canaanite army camped in my yard, but I can relate to that feeling of overwhelming dismay. How did I get in this mess? How can I be this old in the Lord and still be learning this? How could I forget to stay connected, when I’ve walked with the Lord, seen His provision, and known His presence? Gack! But the blessed remedy is written down for me as well—how the Israelites, poised for destruction, cried out to God for deliverance and He answered. He answered every time.
As I return, sheepish and ashamed, I know the Lover of my soul will receive me. He is good and loving and fiercely committed to getting me across my finish line. As I humbly admit that I am as dense and stiff-necked as my spiritual forefathers, grace is extended to me as it was to them. He's been waiting the whole time for me to awaken to my state and run to Him. So I am applying myself to believe His word, going to Him in faith for His forgiveness and forgetfulness. They are mine for the asking, because He says so. I am clumsily resetting the pattern of devotion and prayer and worship that are so much more vital than whether the bathrooms are painted or the curtains hung.
Of course my new-old house still needs work, lots of work...and there's the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning. Friendships need tending and I need accountability. Boy, do I need accountability! I am reminded afresh that just because my path seems familiar doesn’t mean I know where I’m going. Doing life by habit draws me off course and into a bramble patch every time. So I’m pulling the stickers out of my heinie and handing my compass back to Father. He’s helping me return to the right path, the one that keeps me close to Him. How I’ve missed Him! How I've missed who I am when I am with Him.