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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Seeing Clearly

Since June of 2007 our apartment building has been undergoing a major renovation to the facade. Early on in the restoration process, the restorers discovered these amazingly beautiful paintings that used to adorn the top of the building. The building now took on historical significance and thus State funds became available. In order to restore the building to its original glory, the facade work had to be done by hand. We live in a big building. It took 20 months. 20 months of scaffolding surrounding our house. 20 months of men peering into our windows. 20 months of our windows being covered in plastic and being splashed with mud, dirt, and grim. 20 months of early morning drilling and tapping that would compete with the latest torture methods. And now it's done. The plastic came down just before Christmas. The scaffolding came down about a month ago. And the window washers came yesterday to spit shine our windows. Just in time as well. We have officially crossed the vernal equinox and therefore have more daylight hours than nighttime hours. We move the clock ahead on Saturday and hence begin the march towards 22 hour day. I have come to love to perpetual light. With the house's unveiling we feel as though blinders have been removed. We have often felt as if we were living in a cave during these 2 years and it feels so wonderful to see the light stream in, to look out and enjoy the sunshine and the blue sky. The added bonus is that our building is absolutely gorgeous. These photos do not do justice to the glistening gem that now sits at Tegnergatan 4. We once had the worst looking building on the block. Now we've won Stockholm's city award for best renovation in 2008. People comment on our building and it feels good. The exterior of our house has been fully restored.
Of course, with the bright light streaming into our apartment now, we are painfully aware of how dirty our place is! The spring light is a welcome reprieve from the winter darkness, but every flaw is also now glistening! I am reminded of the verse in scripture that says that people love the darkness for their deeds are evil and they do not want them to be exposed. So just as the light of day exposes the dirt in our houses, so it follows then that the light of Christ exposes the dirt in our lives. It is not so pleasant to be convicted of the things in your life that you know need to be cleansed. And yet, like the satisfaction I feel when I've cleaned my house after seeing the dirt exposed, so it is when I can allow the grace of Christ to wash over me and cleanse me from within as well. But we must be willing to let the "dirt" be exposed or else we'll never own our need for the deep cleaning we could us in our lives. Are we brave enough let the light of Christ shine on our "dirty" places so that the interiors of our houses can be restored as well?
I'm preaching today on John 9, the text where Jesus heals the blind man by making mud out of dirt and spit, placing it on his eyes and then asking him to go wash. The upshot of the entire story is how Jesus used a physical healing to demonstrate our need for spiritual healing as well. The man moved into the light on numerous levels...he moved into the light of day, literally able to now experience the world around him. But he also moved into the light of Christ coming to a full understanding of Jesus as lord and savior, not merely a miracle medicine man. The blind man experienced restoration to his sight, both physically and spiritually.
To be physically blind is one thing. To be spiritually blind is catastrophic. The Pharisees in this text demonstrated that while they had eyes to see the world, they had hearts that were blind thus they lived in the dark, but didn't even know it. Because they were unwilling to see what Jesus was doing, they couldn't even acknowledge their need for healing and thus remained blinded to the light that Christ was offering. While they had eyes to see the world, their inability to see what Jesus was fully about kept them in the dark.
I absolutely love summer time in Sweden. (Instead of daylight saving time, they simply refer to winter time and summer time and I think here, that sums things up quite well.) Yes, the dirt in my house is more fully exposed, but at least I can see it and do something about it. Midway through Lent, I am trying to welcome the light of Christ into my life so that I can see the dirt and pray that he cleans it away that I might reflect more fully the light that is Christ. The renovation of my interior life is ongoing. But I love the way the restoration is turning out.