We moved house in August. The new home is what they call a “fixer-upper”. Perfectly habitable but needing work.

The project list is long, but the one selected for the Christmas break was – “take the tiles off the kitchen wall so they can be re-plastered.”  Just have a look at the tiles in the picture and you will understand why this is a priority.

Goggles, gloves, hammer & chisel did their work and we soon had a wall bereft of tiles. One obstacle stood in the way of progress – the corner kitchen cabinet. My son helped me lift it off the wall, I removed the fixings, then the tiles and we lifted it back in place. Crockery, glasses, baking ingredients and spices were re-loaded onto the shelves and we went our merry way.

At 00.25am on New Year’s Day our dog jumped out of his furry skin at the loud ‘crash’ that emanated from the kitchen. The photograph tells the story. Cabinet and wall had parted company. Luckily only a couple of glasses broke, and the toaster sports a rakish dent, but it could have been much worse.

The post-mortem revealed a sobering truth. Removing the tiles meant that the screws holding the supporting plates in place had far less grip into the wall. The holes needed drilling deeper to provide support adequate to the new situation. There is a metaphor here.

Change is essential to growth. And it can make us stronger as well as more mature. But change is disturbing and will only strengthen us if we pay attention to the foundations, the roots, the state of the rawl plugs in the wall.  The New Year is here, and change is in the air.  If we want to see growth in our relationship with God we must anticipate disturbance.

The angels sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Lk 2.14). Simeon said to Mary, “…a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Lk 2.35). Quite a contrast. When Jesus comes into our lives he brings us peace, but also a sword.

Are we ready to let God drill deeper this year?  Let’s pray for the courage to allow our Father to move in us to make us ‘better’, but also stronger.  If we will, nothing will come crashing down.

Malcolm Cox