Have you ever felt around in the dark for a light switch before finally locating it behind a door? Or maybe you’ve heard the windows whistling when the wind blows. The paint that looked so good in Better Homes and Gardens made the bathroom look like a dilapidated toolshed. And whoever designed our space-challenged kitchen with SEVEN six-inch-wide cabinets certainly didn’t cook! But even the “dream homes” you see on Pinterest and HGTV are replete with design flaws, whether it’s because of an amateur draftsman, a last-minute addition, or a nifty but impractical idea.
And you know what? I’m a terrible architect at building a dream life too. Most people my age are making the awkward transition from preparing for life to building a life, and it’s a big temptation, even masquerading as “common sense”, to manipulate the details. I sketched out a plan for my life, complete with a timeline, a wish list, a contingency plan, and a picket fence. And the Lord chuckled kindly and said, “That’s sweet, dear. I’ll hang it on My refrigerator.” This is not the life He has envisioned for me, and in Proverbs 24:3-4 He gives me a glimpse of His plan.
- “Through wisdom is an house builded;…” Wisdom is the framework of my house of dreams. It’s the ability to discern what God says is right and wrong; it’s the practice of godliness applied to everything I think and do.
- “…and by understanding it is established:” Understanding is the foundation that anchors my life to the Word of God. Wisdom can tell me right from wrong, but understanding teaches me why that’s true, helps me know how to apply eternal precepts to practical issues.
- “And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Knowledge is the furnishing of my life. Knowledge is not just having a handle on Doctrine 101, but knowing God Himself on a personal level, His precepts, His character. Talk about a sumptuous sofa and a home coffee bar.
We all like ideas for improvement. I’m a sucker for “lifehacks” and DIYs, and it carries over into my life-building. “I’d be ready for the mission field if I just learn Spanish! … I need to improve this skill well enough that I can support myself with it if I need to! … I need to make sure I have five people trained to take my place if I ever leave this church!” They’re all great ideas for somebody, but they’re tangents for me right now based on a self-willed prediction that’s out of my control. I cannot expect to live the life of my dreams by chasing after every bright idea I find. Some friends of mine are remodeling a recently purchased property, and much to their chagrin, the previous owner has left a plethora of “bright idea” projects that never got completed or weren’t as practical as he’d hoped. Instead, he spent the bulk of his time building things that never came to fruition. And in my attempt to “improve” upon God’s blueprint for my life, I can actually damage the value of what He’s trying to do in me.
How to have the house of your dreams
“Delight thyself also in the Lord” – Psalm 37:4. It sounds cliché, but delighting yourself in the Lord is not going into your walk with God with the attitude of “I’m going to enjoy it, like it or not!” There doesn’t have to be this relationship with Him where I pray like I’m reading a grocery list to my dad, or where I read His Word like it’s a textbook instead of a holy glimpse into the mind and character of Almighty God.
What do you delight in? Where did it start? I’m a Curious George. Something catches my eye; I poke at it and discover more about it that I want to know. Other people’s excitement about it intrigues me. So I take the leap, and suddenly it’s an all-out binge-fest! The color teal, vintage jewelry, a certain author, Bengal Spice tea – I’m all in. And once the binge phase has mellowed out, I find that I’ve made the thing such a habit that I’m at a loss when I go without it. It’s become my delight. Maybe it’s time to get around people who are excited to be in the presence of God. Maybe it’s time to examine more closely the things we’re so passively familiar with, but without any zeal.
Use the right materials. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Don’t wait til the preacher covers a topic to know anything about it. Don’t get your life-building advice from Christians that don’t use the King James Bible, from self-help gurus, or heaven forbid, from the first page of Google results. The pursuit of real wisdom is a challenge well worth taking.
If studying God’s Word is new to you, you could start by taking a topic per month as you read through the book of Proverbs, and jotting down any references to it you find. What does Proverbs say about the characteristics of the wise? What about sloth? Interpersonal relationships? Pride? Self-control? Use a cross-referencing Bible or concordance to lead you into what the rest of the Scripture has to say about it, too.
Hand over the pencil. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” – Proverbs 19:21. After 26 years, there isn’t much on my old sketches to come to pass. There have been many contingencies I never planned for. And I won’t lie; it hurts when the demolition team comes down on my half-baked projects so He can remodel. But as I grow in grace, I am finding that this “dream house” of a life He desires for me – built with wisdom, established with understanding, furnished with knowledge – is actually beyond anything I had the power to envision.
Oh, and you should see the kitchen in this place…