The family handyman website ranks the top 25 home improvement and restoration shows on television today, though the actual number of restoration shows may top 100.
My initiation into the genre came from Bob Vila. His original series on PBS television was called This Old House. The programs ran from 1979 to 1989 but are still in syndication today.
Today many cable stations host shows about restoring old homes. From Beach Home Restorations to Flip or Flop in LA, viewers are invited to watch the process and problems involved in renovating a house. Owners have visions of obtaining a better future for themselves and the house, but there are almost always obstacles to overcome. Most of these shows follow a similar pattern.
Restoration starts messy. A part of the appeal of these shows is the demolition. Rooms are ransacked, sledgehammers are swung, and sometimes bulldozers have to churn. Restoration begins by tearing away the old and worn out, while preserving the structure and character of the old house.
Restoration follows a blueprint. The plan shows the team what to tear away and what to preserve. Graphic software provides images of what the new home will look like. Without a blueprint, restoration is nothing more than chaos. Successful restoration looks at the history of the home and builds upon its strengths.
Restoration almost always embraces an imperfection. More often than not, the process of restoration uncovers something that cannot be fixed. Sometimes the problem is because of a lack of resources and funds. But often the imperfection is embedded in the original structure and design of the home. The restoration often covers or masks the imperfection in a way the owners come to enjoy its uniqueness.
The Bible makes an interesting comparison between our bodies and homes. It is compared to both a temple and a tent. We are told that the body is in decay (1 Corinthians 15:53-55) and gets weaker as we age (2 Corinthians 4:16). Eventually the decay is severe enough that it turns the body back to dust.
Sometimes decay comes from age. The body simply cannot function as it did when it was younger. Illness and constant use take their toll. Decay and death knock on the door to every home.
Sometimes decay comes from circumstances or people. The turmoil of COVID has left the spirit worn and weary. Constant stress from people at work, a prodigal child, or a combative in-law chip away at the heart.
Sometimes decay comes from neglect. We don’t pay attention to cracks in the foundation. The turning wheels are left unattended and ungreased. We promise to get that check-up after the first of the year. Turning our eyes the other way may put a growing problem out of sight, but it doesn’t take the problem away.
We live in a world where so much has been lost, destroyed, and forgotten. The human heart yearns for restoration. “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” (Psalm 51:10) cries the psalmist and each one of us. The task is far bigger than one can accomplish on their own.
Throughout the Old Testament, God brings a message of hope in the middle of decay. “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17).
The Bible teaches that God is in the business of restoration, the ultimate and eternal flip or flop. Greg Koukl is a Christian apologist, author and speaker. He comments, “Worldviews have four elements that help us understand how a person’s story fits together: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. ‘Restoration’ describes what the world would look like once the repair begins to take place.”
God enjoys restoration. In addition to Job’s fortunes, God restored Naaman’s flesh from leprosy (2 Kings 5), Hezekiah’s life (Isaiah 38), David’s soul from sin (Psalm 23) and the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51). Nebuchadnezzar was brought back from the depths of despair (Daniel 4). God restores lands and life, health and hope. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar;” (Isaiah 40:31).
The Psalmist says, “For the redemption of the soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever — that he should live on eternally, that he should not undergo decay” (Psalm 49:8-9 ESV). Like restoring old houses, restoring the soul is an expensive task. God has offered to do it for us, and give the restored house to us as a gift.
The resurrection builds a foundation upon which our faith rests. Timothy Keller writes, “But resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.”
God’s restoration business is unique. Instead of working simply within your budget, the restoration uses His supplies and resources. A powerful principle surfaces: God restores more. When Job recovered from Satan’s trials, we read, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before … The Lord bless the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” (Job 42:10, 12 NIV).
David’s writings in many of the Psalms affirms the important concept of God’s restoration. The concept is evident even in the popular 23rd Psalm. “God restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3 ESV).
Over the next few weeks, let’s spend some time considering how God can work to restore the order and direction of this old house.