Looking out my back picture window, the normally peaceful view had become a bit of a wasteland. Scraps from our now nonexistent deck lay stacked against the fence, twisted sprinkler pipes poked out at varied angles from the red clay, and the once green grass now bore the violent claw marks from a backhoe. We had entered into an entirely new phase of our lives called "home renovation."

Whether we're referring to a physical building, our emotional landscape, or even our spiritual growth, expansion requires moving beyond what has been to what will be. Stirred by visions and dreams, we may willingly step into new territory with our hearts wide open and our expectations high. As hidden costs bubble up from beneath the flow of activity, however, questions fill our minds. Later, when back-to-back delays set in, discouragement threatens to derail the entire endeavor.

Dull, gray cement foundation blocks stand like unfeeling sentinels around the gaping hole where our hopes can be seen only by faith. In the chaos, we come face to face with the reality that we didn't expect growth to be this . . . messy. Surely, we reason, if God were in it, shouldn't it look better? As we look around, desperate for green pastures and quiet waters, we figure we must be somewhere in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).

A specialty of God, however, is bringing life from death. Pointing to places we thought were long past producing, God calls us to prepare for new growth (Isaiah 54:1). We are charged to "enlarge," "build," and "spread out" (v.2). Our role is to obey; His is to make it happen. When we make Him the Master Designer, we can rest assured that our plans do not go forth in vain (Psalm 127:1, 138:8).

--Regina Franklin, Our Daily Journey

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