Nine years ago when I was going through my divorce, my parents were living two hours away taking care of my then 98-year-old grandfather. They decided to sell their home, move closer to me so they could help me with the kids, and bring my sweet grandpa with them.
My grandmother had died a few years earlier, leaving my grandpa a widower after nearly 72 years of marriage. My parents thought he would be happier in an assisted living center of some type, some place where he would be able to socialize with other people closer to his age.
But my grandpa was stubborn. He had been a strong, independent leader all his life. He was the oldest of seven boys (God bless his mother). He was a teacher and school administrator. He was a deacon in his church. He was a farmer and insurance salesman.
And there was absolutely NO WAY he was going to live in an assisted living center. He was going to buy a house and live independently, just like he always had.
So he bought a house. A brand new house. Paid cash for it. At the age of 98.
My grandpa was diagnosed with a metastatic skin cancer a few short months after he moved in. He stayed in the house for about a year and half before caring for him independently became too much for my dad. He spent the last few months of his life in a nearby nursing home. He passed away surrounded by his entire family a few short days before his 100th birthday.
When Grandpa became ill, I was able to pack up my kids, sell my house, and move into Grandpa’s house. God provided a nice neighborhood with good schools. I was able to have a place to live without the burden of rent or a mortgage. We had the benefit of having my parents next door to help me with the kids.
It was one of those God-things, a moment when Grandpa’s stubbornness was used by God to take care of me and my children.
We have been living in Grandpa’s house for the last seven years. When Roy and I got married, we looked for another house, a place with more room for a family of seven. There are some beautiful homes out here, but it was incredibly expensive to find a place that would accommodate five kids who are all used to having their own space. After months of searching, we decided to build the ultimate man-cave for our brood of teenage boys and stay right where we are, purchasing it from my parents.
The last few months have consisted of updating our home and getting it ready for an appraisal. We have replaced the carpet and painted the walls. We have cleaned up the flower beds and added some color. We have painted the doors and much of the exterior. And, as we finally near the date of the appraisal, we have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned some more. Sweeping. Mopping. Polishing woodwork. Scrubbing bathrooms. Organizing. Cleaning out. Throwing away. So. Much. Work.
This week, the appraiser comes to inspect our house, to see how much it is worth. Appraisal day is the day we find out how much our hard work will pay off, how much the cleaning and updating has increased the value of our home.
As I reflected on this process tonight, I began to think about our lives as Christians. We have an appraiser, One who tells us the value of our lives. We have One who looks at all of the hard work we have done trying to live holy lives, lives marked by the love of God. We have One who steps in and evaluates every corner of our heart, searching it to know its value.
I don’t know about you, but I want my Appraiser to give me the ultimate assessment. I want to hear my Appraiser say those words to me one day, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.” There’s no greater appraisal that can be given to one of His children.
And how do we get the highest appraisal?
Start with a new house. A good appraisal starts with allowing the Creator to make you a new person. He takes the old and wipes it away, replacing it with His perfection, His righteousness. Without His touch, our lives are worthless, meaningless. But with Him making us new, we get to experience the value that can only come from being a child of the King.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Clean the inside. We have painted and changed our flooring in preparation for this appraisal. It’s been a lot of work, but it should make a difference. You wouldn’t even know this house was the same house because of all of the changes made on the inside.
And that’s how God works in us. He doesn’t expect us to change the way we talk and look; instead, He changes the way we think. He softens our hearts and gives us new hearts. He gives us eyes to see the world as He sees. He’s all about changing you from the inside out, giving us His heart for all things and all people.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Clean up the exterior. After He makes us new, we want to clean up the exterior. We replace our old ways of living with His ways. It sometimes seems like a daunting task, but He is the master painter, the master artist. He won’t leave you stuck in your old ways. Instead, He lovingly guides you into the beauty He has for you.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
Let the appraiser look at every aspect. The appraiser always has a trained eye. He knows exactly what to look for, where the value is in every building. He evaluates the house from every angle, both inside and out. He looks for the curb appeal. He looks for upgrades from the original. He measures to see how much space there is. It’s never just a quick glance; it’s an intense study of the subject.
It’s much the same with us. Our master Appraiser must be allowed to look long and hard, to see what exists below the surface. We must allow Him to have free and unfettered access to every part of our hearts and lives. We must allow Him to uncover the hidden beauty. That’s when we get to see Him take what’s there and turn it into more than we ever dreamed.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23
Our home appraisal is now complete. We are only waiting for the report to tell us—to tell the mortgage company—the value of our home. It’s been a long process, and it’s taken a lot of work. But we know all of our hard work will be worth it.
Now I want my life to be evaluated by our Master Appraiser in the same way. I want to know my value, a value that only comes from a life hidden in Christ. I want Him to change me from the inside out, making me of greater value each day. I want Him to evaluate every aspect and give me that final appraisal one day. I want to hear those precious words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
The journey to “Well done” is often filled with struggles and strife. It takes a lot of work—inside and out—to reach the final appraisal. But it is not a process we do alone. It is His power at work in us, molding us into what He wants us to be.
Ultimately, when we do things God’s way, we find a value—an appraisal—that far exceeds anything we could expect.