My house repented. OK, it’s not my house, it is the church’s, but it still repented. 

The house made a huge change. It went from light blue/gray and white to being maple red, sandy tan, and raccoon fur gray. The process of repentance was hard work, though, as it had to be repaired, scraped, primed and two coats of new paint put over all the surfaces. And since we do not live in a vacuum, the neighbors were part of the repentance, too — unwittingly and unwillingly. 

Red is a difficult color to paint and often it is best to tint the primer in the red range to allow for better coverage. I did this with a five-gallon bucket of primer and a one-gallon bucket of barn red. That the maple red did take nicely is proof that I was smart to mix the primer and barn paint, but one would have questioned it at the time. 

I don’t name colors but if I did I would say the primer was the color of a dead wino’s liver or scorched Pepto-Bismol — basically a shade of pink you will not find at any reputable lingerie store. I think neighbors, golfers and postal workers were frightened that the pink was our new color choice. At one point, when the house was still partly blue/gray and partly wino’s liver it looked like a gender reveal party gone bad. But as the maple red and sandy tan and raccoon fur were added, people calmed down. The house is beautiful and the stonework done by old Mr. Schmidt really stands out nicely.

Repent means to change, to turn to something different. In my neighborhood growing up, houses repented all the time. About half of the houses in my neighborhood were the kind that had owners for two or three years and then changed hands. Every time they changed hands the houses repented as the new owners made them expressive of their tastes. The houses owned by the neighborhood lifers, like my parents, more or less stayed the same. 

The houses had cedar shake siding that had to be regularly painted to keep them in good shape. Painting is work, though, so the neighborhood lifers, one by one, put steel or aluminum siding on their homes, often in the color that they had at the time. The red house stayed red, the yellow house stayed yellow, the blue house stayed blue. The key word is stayed.

The promise of a maintenance-free home, never having to paint again, was incredibly attractive to these aging homeowners. Maintenance takes work. Repentance takes work. And today those houses are still those same colors — nothing has changed. As these people die and the heirs sell the houses the buyers better like the color because they are stuck with it. Change would be difficult and expensive. 

Doesn’t it seem that we get that way in our lives? We suddenly get to the realization that we have been having to change and fix and adapt our whole lives and we are tired of it, and we decide to become maintenance-free. We get set in our ways and tell the rest of the world that they are stuck with us and everyone else has to get used to it.

“I can’t wear a mask.” “I can’t use a computer.” I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. As Henry Ford said, “If you say you can’t do something then I guess you’re right.”

Change isn’t easy but we usually like the results. Changes in diet usually lead to better health. Changes in exercise usually lead to better physical fitness and better sleep and better self-respect. Changes in devotional life usually lead to a richer appreciation of God. It is work but it is good work because the results are worthy.

There were times when I was repainting the house when I was not good company. I may have talked Norwegian (family euphemism for swearing) and may have cursed the devastatingly lovely person who tricked me into this venture. But I like it now. And I want to take care of it. I want to do the little things that keep it better. Repentance is worth it.

Now I am going to set my sights on the automotive industry and get it to repent. These last 30 years have to be the most boring period of car ownership in the history of mobility. All the sedans, all the SUVs, all the trucks haven’t changed in ages. They look alike and they’re ugly. They are nice inside and have dozens of comfort and safety features that I do not want to be without, but my God it is boring. People used to drive works of art. You could tell the year and make of a car from 500 feet away. Today? Bleccccch.

Repentance is worth it. Repentance makes life new.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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