I knew it was coming. My wife and I hopped into my truck, and I pulled away quickly, hoping my son wouldn’t see his mom burst into tears. At only twenty-two, Chase had saved enough money for a down payment on a house. Determined to move out and live on his own, he applied for a mortgage before he even began looking at properties so that he knew what he could afford. Once he was approved, he began scouring the Internet for the right place. Finally, he found a house he thought had potential. He asked his mom and me to look at the place he was planning to buy. We drove to a little community in the shadow of the Atlanta airport and pulled into the driveway at the address he’d given us. Chase had gotten there first and was waiting in the driveway for us. We got out of the truck and walked to the front stoop of the little two-bedroom, two-bath (actually, the second one could barely be called a bathroom) home, and he began to give us the grand tour.
Our first impression was shock and disgust. We had a hard time understanding how anyone could live in such filthy conditions. The home had been built in the 1940s, and it seemed as if previous owners had never cleaned or updated anything. The appliances and fixtures were old and dilapidated. Massive repairs would be required. In addition, the backyard was full of garbage hidden under a growth of Georgia kudzu. Two outdoor sheds were crammed with junk. The grass was knee high, and there was a dead rat in the crawl space. I could see the stress on my wife’s face as she looked around.
She actually did very well keeping herself together. When he would excitedly show her features of the home, she would smile and say, “Oh, that’s nice.” It was an Oscar-worthy performance as she acted thrilled for our son.
Like I said, I knew it was coming. When we finally got back into my truck, she held it together until the doors were closed, but I could see the tears leaking from her eyes. Once we’d pulled out of the driveway and were out of his sight, she said with the anguish only a mother could express, “I can’t let my baby live in a place like that.”
I began to try talking her through it the best I could. “Yes, there’s work to do,” I said, “but he’s young and can handle it. I’ll work with him and do what I can to help him get it livable. This is good for him! He’s growing up and taking responsibility for his life. We should be so proud that, at twenty-two, he’s even able to buy a house. That’s amazing!”
Despite my words, all she could see was the mess and the filth. That the one she loved would be moving away from her into a place like that was more than she could stand.
Chase purchased the home, and over the next six months, I was on his speed dial. “Hey, Dad, do you know anything about plumbing?” Or, “Dad, can you come help me replace some sheetrock?” I spent my days off helping him get that place livable. We filled two dumpsters with pure garbage. We ripped out cabinets and replaced them. We set new countertops. We replaced fixtures and dangerous wiring. I am by no means a handyman, but we learned together how to do all those things. During that period of time, as Kim would come over to help clean or paint, she would see the progress, and her excitement began to build.
Today, the little house my son purchased, the one once considered by most to be a throwaway, is now a charming little cottage because of my son. I am certainly proud of Chase for being able to save money and purchase his own home at such a young age, but I’m even more impressed by how he was able to have a vision for something no one else could see. He knew it would take a lot of work, but he could see past what it was to what it could be. It’s exciting to watch someone catch a vision like that and work towards accomplishing it.
I think in the same way, God has that vision for you and me. The rest of the world may not see it. People might even consider some of us throwaways, but no matter where we’ve been or what kind of mess we’ve made of our lives, God can see through it to the beauty of a complete restoration.