Each week on ABC’s hit show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a family that’s struggling with overwhelming circumstances is selected to receive a brand new home that will help them overcome their troubles. It’s not just a renovation of the old home, but a brand new, state-of-the-art, beyond-your-wildest-dreams house!
As soon as the family is whisked off to a wonderful vacation spot, hundreds of volunteers arrive on the scene to begin a week of hard work. Construction professionals and good-hearted individuals work side by side to build, wire, roof, paint, decorate, landscape and more. I’m sure the excitement at the build site is electric. Plus, there is the added thrill of “Hollywood” as the show’s cameras roll. Local news crews descend on the scene. Police officers control the throngs of spectators who gather to gawk. At the end of the week, amid thousands of cheering people, the family shouts those famous words, “Bus driver, move that bus!” and a magnificent mini-mansion is revealed.
This past year, a family in our community received an unbelievable new home compliments of the hit show. The excitement was everywhere. Even my kids came home abuzz with tales of who knew the recipient family, whose dad was a police officer at the site and even (gasp!) who had actually met Ty Pennington!
Eventually life went back to normal in this otherwise quiet neighborhood.
Almost exactly one year later and literally right around the corner from this Extreme Makeover was another home—another family—and another overwhelming need. But this time there was no fanfare.
My friend, a single mother, had to sell her relative’s house after his recent passing. The home was badly rundown and the open house was scheduled in just two weeks. A call for help was sent out to her church family and soon dozens of volunteers—armed with toolboxes, yard tools and paint brushes—arrived to help. They hammered, sawed, spackled, painted, de-cluttered, repaired, decorated, vacuumed, dusted, raked, weeded, mulched and more! And when it was all done, it was glorious.
How do I know? Because I was there.
Being one of the last ones on the scene, I marveled at all that had been accomplished in such a short time. The house sparkled. I was filled with admiration for those who had selflessly given their time and joined together to do what seemed overwhelming, if not impossible. It was just as the Master Carpenter said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)
As I worked outside, the Extreme Makeover house loomed in the distance as a startling counterpoint. Sure it’s spectacular, but it’s fantasy—a wood, shingle and glass lottery ticket. Our house was an example of an extreme home makeover—in the real world. This is what it looks like when we “love one another.” No cameras, no celebrities, no front page stories, no cheering crowds. Just love in the form of hard work, a helping hand and even a shoulder to cry on.
I know that our group of volunteers is special, but not unusual. Every day church families everywhere join together to do this very thing. We don’t do it for fame or recognition. We do it because that’s what the Bible tells us to do: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)
As I drove away that day, the newly-planted “For Sale” sign stood as a silent testimony to all that happened here and the fact that we, indeed, are better together.