Day 24

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” – Jeremiah‬ 31‬:25‬ NIV‬‬

While writing is becoming my passion the more I do it, my day job is real estate development. Because of the often-high-profile nature of the work that we do (building apartment buildings, refreshing shopping centers, buying office buildings) we run into all sorts of people that take an interest in our work. Throughout all those many conversations I can’t tell you how often people respond to what we are proposing in interesting and unusual ways. The one that most often confuses me is when people fight to keep an old, run-down building standing rather than see a beautiful new development teaming with energy and light. Now, this is not a comment on pushing out age-old businesses and replacing them with newer, high-end stores just to make more money. Those older businesses can be the glue that holds a community together. And let’s face it, newer isn’t always better.

But at the end of the day, there are two kinds of old buildings: ones that house long-lived businesses that are meaningful to people and that remind people of a better time, and the run-down or even closed businesses that have overstayed their welcome both economically and aesthetically. So many times these buildings are kept standing by local jurisdictions just because people are unwilling to make the hard decision to let them be torn down to make way for progress. Ironically, there are many times when these building stay vacant and run down because people want to put something there that will never work, or they just can’t seem to let go of the use that is already there because they just want it to work so badly, even though it is clear that it doesn’t. In truth, most of the time they are just holding onto the old because it is safe, when in truth the new is better, even if it is scarier.

Of course, all of this talk of old buildings is a metaphor for ourselves. Sometimes we need to tear down to be refreshed and renewed. In its description of the book of Jeremiah, writes, “The book of Jeremiah carries us back and forth in place and time as we turn its pages, yet its themes are consistent. The message of judgment for wrongdoing is followed by the restorative power of forgiveness and new life: to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

And in these themes we see the life of Jesus writ large. He challenged the old ways and showed us a new way. He loved in contradictions. He refreshed and satisfied those that had been judged as too weak or too small or not enough. And to think, when Jeremiah was writing this, Jesus had yet to even be born. Still, it is amazing to me how his words foretell the power of Jesus to bring new life.

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