This week I had the honor of joining a sweet friend for a tour of her new farm, recently purchased and moved into. She is a new friend of mine, we have just met and gotten to know each other in the last few weeks. When I met her, one of the first things she shared with me was that she and her family were in the process of purchasing a new home. She even sent a picture and a link to the place so I could see what all her excitement was about.
When I saw the pictures I immediately understood. It was an old farm, built in the 1940’s. The property came with an old farmhouse with several add-ons, like they liked to do back in the day. It came with several outbuildings, a pond (with a row boat), an old smokehouse, fruit trees, an old tractor, and the most beautiful old red barn you have ever seen.
When she invited my boys and me out there for a visit and tour, I was most willing to get to know my new friend and to explore this great place. Our hostess was a wonderful tour guide. Her love of that place was so evident as she showed me the antique porcelain doorknobs, the original wood floors, the amazing screened-in porch, and the view of her farm from the kitchen window. We toured the outhouses, walked around the pond and climbed the old stairs in the barn to the hayloft. The kids climbed on the old tractor and declared they wanted to come here, “every day!”
It was a breathtaking place. What struck me though, was what she pointed out as she shared the joy of her new home with us. She excitedly pointed out the cracked walls, the warped floors, the sagging ceilings and the decades worth of layered, peeling wall paper. She took me up the rickety old stairs up to the attic, where eventually her family will have the most amazing library and playroom that will overlook their farm. Right now that space seems anything but, with exposed joists and unsteady footing. She pointed out the odd wall with a window, separating the two sides of the attic from the each other (evidence of a past growth spurt). She showed me the holes that had been covered from where the old cook stoves had been removed to fit the house for modern heating and air. She showed me strange, imagination-inspiring nooks, crannies and closets. In the barn, she showed me the broken down horse stalls, the long-unused farm tools, the piles of weathered barn wood filling the hayloft. We sought out old fences, explored neglected chicken coops and wondered at the outhouse placed conveniently beside the pond.
There was so much joy in all these little old, dirty, worn out and long-forgotten things. Where many would say broken, rusted and out-of-date, she saw charm, and evidence of her new home having a “soul”.
Where most would see unlimited work and effort, she sees an opportunity for her and her husband to create something together. Where some would see exposed ceiling joists, she sees a peek into the past. Where some would see warped floors, she sees ancient wood that tells a story. Where some may see layers of dirt, grime and years worth of neglect, she sees an amazing life for her, her family and her new chickens.
I think that grace is so much like my friend and her eyes for her farm. Grace looks at us, not with eyes that cover all our evidence of brokenness, despair and neglect, but with ones that seek out those things and sees them for what they could be. Grace allows us to invite God and others in, and seeks out the peeling wallpaper, the cracks in our walls and the warped flooring, and gives us a vision for the beauty that those things hold. It sees joy in the face of the work involved. It sees beauty in dirty, messy and old. Grace is what exposes our weaknesses, but then uses them to make us a beautiful home for Himself.
Our weakness and brokenness are to Him, like that old house is to my friend. They are opportunities to create a new home, with an old soul. New memories that will be mingled in with the past; ones that appreciate the memories already made, not covering them up, but making them part of the new.
Grace makes all things more beautiful, and makes the old new again. It gives joy in the face of messes. It sees opportunities in brokenness. It gives strength in the work ahead because it sees what it all could be, just like on the farm.
Thank you God, for grace!