“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
This poetic piece of imagery by Clive Staples Lewis has inspired me in countless ways, but three of the emotion-evoking points stand out and clamor to be heard. The Color, the Story, and the Legacy of the passage from Mere Christianity ask to be mused, mulled over, and thought about for years to come.
The color of this passage is so delightful. Can't you just see the little house in your mind? It's falling apart in places, and there's probably a shattered window, rusty door hinge, and cobwebby corners. Can you imagine God, in the appearance of a man, coming in with his tool bag and dirty overalls. He gets down on the floor and nails the loose planks back into place. He would do some plumbing and repairing; replacing the windows, mending the door, and sweeping out all those cobwebs.
But then he does things that don't make sense. He starts carting in lumber, breaking down perfectly solid walls and adding to the little house. Sooner than later, that dirty, sweaty craftsman wipes his brow and stands back to admire the view. The ramshackle house is now a beautiful estate, a place where even the finest of kings would be honored to live in.
That leads on to the story behind the story. Lewis is a master at allegory, painting pictures on top of an already painted canvas, and only those who choose to look past the first layer can see the underlying message. If we are the house that Lewis describes and God is the craftsman, why must we go through so much repair? Because of our sin and stain, God had to come in and mend the holes, wash away the dirt, and fix us from the inside.
But of course, He doesn't want to stop there. He wants for us to have enough room in our hearts and lives for Him to live in us. All of the little things cluttering up our house, or destroying the woodwork must go, and the long, hard process of rebuilding must begin. But when He's done, oh, imagine, how beautiful might we be? I wonder what my heart-house looks like now...and what potential it has to evolve into something elegant.
So, this is the legacy. The color of the prose blended neatly with the story of the heart melds into one solid truth: our hearts are far from perfect, but if we let God in, He can make a palace out of our cottage. But it's all a matter of willingness. Think if the landlord of the little house had refused to let the house be restored. Weeds and animals would inhabit the uninhabitable home. Walls would fall, and there would be nothing left to repair.
But if we choose to let God work in our lives, to nail down those loose boards, and replace our broken windows, we can see the growth and change within our lives. What better destiny is there for our hearts, then to be molded in God's hands and shaped in a beautiful way? I don't think that there is; God's blueprint for our lives are the best plans in the world.
So with the colorful imagery of words and descriptions, we see a painting of a dilapidated old house, turned into something glorious. We see through the story of allegory how that little house is our hearts being "knocked about" into something bigger, better, and more beautiful. And we can see through the legacy of our hearts how we can be made into the dwelling place of God; a place that He is not embarrassed to live in, and that He Himself created it.
It's a beautiful feeling, this hope that we have that God will not give up on us, not even if it takes years to nail those boards, painful days to hang that chandelier, and countless nights painting the walls. Thank you, Mr. Lewis, for your wonderful reminder that we are houses, and God is ready or already starting to work on our hearts!