January 13, 2010

Fixing a Drafty House
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor

Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. - 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

The joys of home ownership continue in the Britton household. Our "real estate with potential" is now home after five weeks of renovation and two months of unpacking, but we're still discovering the quirks and "personality" of our old house. For instance, the hot water promptly disappears after 15 minutes of showers and certain appliances sound like they hiccup as they recharge.

The most recent discovery came with the chill in Virginia weather. After a couple weeks of outside temperatures hovering around freezing, we were finished wearing five layers in the house and still shivering. (I'm always cold, but that's beside the point). Thus began a quest for the chilly culprit marauding about our first floor. I'd like to say we quickly dispensed with him, but we're either slow learners or in homeowner's denial.

The process began when we realized the chimney flue had been left open for who knows how long (yes, we felt smart). With this overlooked detail amended, the wood floors were no longer painfully cold, but that wasn't saying much. We graduated to stuffing rags under the drafty back door, and begrudgingly turning up the thermostat a tiny bit. That difference was negligible. We programmed the thermostat to turn on a little earlier and invested in warm house slippers. Better, but not much. 

Next came the space heaters that we broke out for our frequent haunts, like the den and bedroom. Those worked, but underscored the contrast between the chilly rooms and the warm rooms. This week, we took the desperate measure (or perhaps it was the pièce de résistance?) of attacking the still-drafty fireplace with microfiber, packing tape, cardboard, and decorative pillows. 

If you could only see my lovely green living room with its boarded-up centerpiece now. 

Here's my guess. We endured a lot of chilliness (and wasted heat) due to our not-so-efficient fireplace, and we probably should've noticed the draft a lot sooner. I think part of our dullness came from thinking "we fixed that" by closing the flue, and part from not wanting to deal with another "home improvement" opportunity. Now that we've acknowledged the problem area, however, we're ready to figure out what one does to better insulate an old chimney and hearth. Besides use decorative pillows, that is. 

I suppose it's only fitting that my house issues mirror my faith issues. The temptation to say, "I already dealt with that, God, can't we move on to something else?" frequently suggests itself to me. And… a few weeks (or months) later, guess what I'm doing? Going back to the original problem, and discovering that I hadn't properly dealt with it originally. Like the drafty air into my house, my sinful attitudes will find a way into my heart if I don't block them entirely.

Paul twice warned churches, in Corinthians and Galatians 5:9, to stand guard against even the tiniest amount of sin, discord and bad doctrine. As he writes, "a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." It's not enough to keep most of it out. Even that little bit will make itself known, whether it's cold floors, yeasty bread, or a selfish attitude. 

Intersecting Faith & Life: What truth is God impressing on your heart right now? Are you in a hurry to learn, get it over with, and move on to bigger and better things? In my own life, the challenge is to slow down enough to hear God's voice the first time, to grow consistently and humbly. The haphazard quick-fix just won't cut it.