I am an English teacher and think in terms of metaphors.
Having been a preacher for three decades before this, I guess you can say I have been in a lifelong pursuit of relevant, practical, relatable metaphors that speak to the spiritual conditions of lives like mine and yours.
I had an epiphany the other day, and I discovered a new metaphor that now speaks to my life.
We sang “Do Lord” at my church recently. My first thought was to ask the question: “How did this song ever speak to me?”
The second question was nearly the same: “How do I recapture the childlike faith that welcomed this song when I was a 9-year-old boy in a Southern Baptist church?”
I came home and turned on a recorded episode of “Fixer Upper” and found myself asking similar questions.
Is my spiritual life in need of a fresh coat of paint or a full Chip-and-Joanna makeover? More to the point, how do I find the vision to bring to life a spirituality that has waned in recent months?
So, here is the “Gospel according to Chip and Joanna.”
Any revitalization needs vision. Chip is great in finding houses that have potential. He gives the houses names. Sometimes, the names are hokey, but they personalize the project.
Next is the true genius of the show. Joanna begins to share a vision of what these houses can become. It borders on brilliance. People have ridiculed the overuse of “open concept” or “this wall needs shiplap.” If you watch the show carefully, her vision never ceases to amaze.
If you are a fan of the show, ask yourself the question: Would you rather have a new spec home or an old home that has a Joanna Gaines decorating it?
A second question is much the same: Have you ever looked around your home and wondered aloud, “What would she do with my house?”
The success of the show and the adoration of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Tim Tebow, Miranda Lambert and even Laura Bush show that I am not the only one who sees the brilliance in her vision.
Joanna’s vision has soul. Her vision has life. Her vision brings renewal. She takes something that is old and in disrepair and creates something that is new and unique.
This led me to another question. Who do I know, who do I trust who has the vision, that I could ask to help me create a new vision for my spiritual life?
I need more than a fresh coat of paint. I need a complete remodel. I am a fixer-upper in need of a fixer.
Ultimately, all vision is God’s vision. I just need someone to help point the way.
Once a house is chosen, the next step is demo day. This is where Chip shines. Over time, a house plan no longer serves its original purpose. Children grow up and leave, we adopt hobbies, mothers-in-law move in.
Demo cannot be an unguided process. It must keep the new vision in mind. If the makeover is to be effective, the demolition must be radical and complete.
In one recent episode, Chip was assisted by his son. They tore out copper pipe and sold it to a scrapyard, netting $166 and change.
The son took some of that money and bought toys and gifts for the handicapped boys who would live in the new house. Chip is teaching his son about more than construction. He is teaching him about giving back.
As you look at your life, what needs to be completely demolished? What walls need to be torn down? Does your foundation need to be reset?
The Apostle Paul often talks of taking away a bad habit and replacing it with a good habit. Demolition in our lives is about getting rid of the behaviors and habits that no longer serve us well.
The next step is the rebuilding of the house. It takes place slowly. There is a huge mess before things come into shape. There is a proverb that says, “Without an oxen, the stable stays clean, but with the oxen comes a great harvest.”
Rebuilding a life can be messy, but it will lead to a profitable future.
The night before the great reveal, Joanna puts the finishing touches on the house. She works alone, for the most part, so her vision can be completed.
The children usually make a “surprise” visit because I think Chip and Joanna want them to understand the whole process of revitalization.
Lastly, there is the big reveal. We finally get to see the finished process.
I teach a confirmation class. The church sees the big reveal, and they applaud the end product.
I am glad I get to watch the process as a teacher. I help the confirmands see a vision for their lives, which usually results in tearing down false ideas and then rebuilding a faith that can stand the test of time.
We help them put the finishing touches on the process, and I love the big reveal.
Rites of passage are important in a person’s life. We need to consider regularly what types of rites of passage do we celebrate for a spiritual remodel?
Maybe I can take myself on a long walk and remember what it was like when “Do Lord” really mattered to me.
Perhaps God will give me a new song on this walk because I think a spiritual remodel is not in need of a big reveal, but simple gratitude.
In school, we talk about teachers needing to be “lifelong learners.” As Christians, we need to be lifelong remodelers.
If you are in need of a fixer-upper, I know just the person to reach out to. He has been rebuilding lives like mine and yours for 2,000 years now. He is the master carpenter.
Ed Hogan is a public school teacher and ordained Baptist minister who lives in Houston, Texas. He served previously on the EthicsDaily.com / Baptist Center for Ethics board of directors.