Open House

by Joanie Butman


We’ve had two broker open houses thus far in an effort to market our house. Having strangers wandering around your home, poking into spaces where you’ve crammed all your ‘junk,’ is such a weird, invasive feeling. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve spent the better part of the winter decluttering, cleaning, painting and primping our home (not to mention the 18 years of ongoing renovations). With that in mind, you can imagine how emotional it is to listen to strangers critique your efforts. The comments run the gamut, with some appreciating what we’ve done and others not. You hear it all: too much this, too little that, too overvalued, too understated.

I think many of us are tempted to do the same in our personal life, tucking away the ‘stuff’ we think others will judge, presenting ourselves only in our polished, pristine condition. That may work with people to some extent, but it doesn’t lend itself to authentic relationships. When it comes to God though, every day is an open house. He knows every secret hiding place no matter how deep in your soul you’ve buried it. He likes to hone in on the clutter you stubbornly refuse to surrender, much like the storage locker full of things my husband is reluctant to dispose of because you never know when you’re going to need hundreds of used Pendaflex folders, or a lovely couch we have now paid five times the value for in storage fees. Whatever is in there, I can guarantee it isn’t worth the price of storage. And neither is our spiritual junk, which is infinitely more costly.

God specializes in rooting out those hidden places and infusing the light of His love into them bringing our junk where it needs to be – into His divine swap shop, bathed in the mercy of His healing grace. He’s not interested in our Sunday best. Anyone can be a 'model' Christian for an hour on Sunday, just like I can keep my house clean for two hours during an open house though even that is a challenge now that the kids are home from college. God’s more interested in what goes on behind the polished facade when the messiness of life creeps in.

In much the same way, when we look at houses, curb appeal might initially attract us, but once inside, it’s the infrastructure that draws our closest attention. We could make any house look nice, but if the foundation or the infrastructure of the house isn’t sound, we’re not buying, and neither is God when we attempt to hide the cracks in our soul.

Last Sunday, Tim Keller asked, “What do you really look like?” Interesting question in a society where so much attention is focused on outward beauty. It forced me to evaluate whose opinion I choose to look to for affirmation. Is my self worth based on what other people see, like my house, looks, talent, occupation, service or finances? That’s a slippery slope as people are fickle, and based on the glut of differing opinions regarding our home, beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. As such, my true beauty can only be found in the eyes of God. My significance as His child is unchanging and more valuable than the opinions of this world.

That said, when it comes to real estate, the condition of my heart doesn’t enter the equation, and the only opinion that actually matters is the potential buyer’s. Not everyone will value what we’ve lovingly restored. God, on the other hand, is the ultimate restoration authority. He can salvage the most damaged life and transform it into something magnificent. In some ways it is similar to our rescue of the dilapidated barn on our property, where we poured in a new foundation and retained many of its original features adapting them to new uses. Their new functions “fit into and enhance the existing space so well it seems as if they were originally designed for those purposes.”* Sounds eerily familiar to what God does with the cracked and shattered areas of our lives. Our barn restoration may have won an award for Best Adaptive Reuse of Materials, but I can’t think of anyone who deserves that honor more than God. He can take anything we choose to surrender and recycle it for His purposes, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary by revealing the inner beauty that He could see all along.

So what do you really look like? And on whose opinions do you choose to base your worth?