Notice of Demolition

by | Sep 19, 2023

“Little men with little minds and little imaginations go through life in little ruts, 

smugly resisting all changes which would jar their little worlds.”

—Zig Ziglar

In July of 1965, my parents sold my childhood home in Pacific Palisades, California. The new owner, a university professor, lived in the house until he died in 2020.

Over the years I occasionally visited my old neighborhood, noticing something peculiar: the house looked exactly as it did the day I moved out—identical green shutters and cream siding, the same style and color shingles, even the exact black address numbers over the front door. The original carport and lone palm tree in the front yard, now much taller, took me back to the ‘50s and ‘60s. Absolutely nothing had changed—kept up, yes; changed, no.

As the decades passed, my drive-by of 751 Swarthmore Avenue evoked different emotions—from comforting memories of family, neighborhood friends, and school days to curiosity about why the new owner resisted change.

If the community had deteriorated or the professor lacked the resources to keep the house up, it would be understandable. But this was not the case. Homes on this highly desirable street today sell for millions of dollars. 751 Swarthmore sold in less than one week on March 1, 2021, for $3,152,000 as a “developer’s special,” which is code for a tear down.

A metaphor of life

In June of 2021, I took my thirteen-year-old grandson Micah to the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles. On the way home I suggested we drive through the Palisades to show him where his Poppy grew up.

The house was abandoned—the lawn had not been watered for weeks, the Rhapsody Blue hydrangea flowers and honeysuckle bushes were dead, the paint peeling. Then I saw a large sign taped to a front window: “NOTICE OF DEMOLITION.” 

The house on Swarthmore Avenue, I concluded, was a metaphor of life. The developers were replacing the old house with a beautiful, modern home. The old needed to be destroyed to make way for the new.

Resistance is futile.

Most men and women cling to this world and their old life, resisting change, but everyone has a “NOTICE OF DEMOLITION” posted over their lives. “Taking a new step,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” It’s not surprising people cling to what we are used to—despite its potential toxicity. 

Jesus made this point when he said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He was speaking of the temple of his body, over which his Father had posted a Notice of Demolition—his impending crucifixion, death, and burial. But his Father had also placed a Notice of Transformation—his resurrection, a new body, ascension, and glorification. 

His earthly body was destroyed for our past; his resurrected body was transformed for our future. 

In John 12:24-25, Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Love it and lose it; lose it and gain something much better.

This past year I’ve watched the destruction of my old house and the building of a spectacular, 7,600 square foot, mansion replacement. The change has been breathtaking. Like the new owner, we are called to embrace the Notice of Demolition over our lives, yielding everything to God to have a truly spiritual and meaningful life. Our Notice of Demolition, Jesus tells us, comes with a promise of transformation. 

God’s perspective

The good news is that change is God’s plan. “Behold,” Christ says in Revelation 21:5, “I am making all things new.” Christ is in the people transformation business, not the people preservation business. “Though our outer self is wasting away,” Paul writes in Second Corinthians 4:16, “our inner self is being renewed [changed, transformed] day by day.”

All men and women have a choice: live in “little ruts” and “little worlds,” or go the way of Christ, a road of unimagined adventure. 

When faced with death, Christ prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup [the cross] pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Luke 22:42) Christ embraced the cross, and the world has never been the same since.

 

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