The first time I saw the house on Gumani Road in April 2001, it was a dilapidated, “things fall apart” and bats-infested wreck of a bungalow. But the three-bedroom with two bathrooms bungalow had two appeals; its proximity to my new office in Tamale, sharing a common side fence, and the big expanse of grounds—a definite deal for my two young sons.
I had to look beyond its state at that time and created in my mind a vision of what it could be. So, I fixed my gaze on this picture of what I imagined it could become as I began to negotiate with the shrewd landlord. Shared with him my vision for the bungalow. Told him I will pay for the renovations on the conditions that he keeps my rent the same throughout my stay in Tamale and when I was ready to leave, he will pay me back for the major fixtures. Shrewd met strong negotiating skills.
I had been told that the man likes money and doesn’t like to spend on his houses. Told him that by the time the house is renovated to my taste, he would not recognize it and after I leave, he would be able to give it to the highest bidder and recoup whatever he would have to refund to me. It is a win-win. I get what I want, and he eventually gets what he likes most. After much debate, we agreed.
The renovation work began in earnest, and in less than two months we had transformed the building into my dream and vision. We fitted the bathrooms with bathtubs. And tiled the walls and floors with elegant and bright tiles. We did the same for the kitchen. We fixed the wardrobes in the three bedrooms. The living area was divided to provide me with a study and storage space. We created a covered portico in front of the bungalow. We had a few trees removed from around the house. I could do without bats and reptiles around the house. I had the whole house and the fence surrounding the house repainted. By the time, we finished, the house stood out on the street.
I had cane furniture brought in from Accra. Made curtains and cushions with the Nigerian Tie and Dye fabric; proudly Nigerian. I had air-conditioners fitted in all the rooms. Tamale is incredibly hot. Children cannot play outdoors until the sun goes down and they are back home from school by 12:30 pm because of the heat.
We moved in. The boys had a great time playing and riding their bicycles on the grounds of the compound. I had the pleasure of hosting guests for dinners especially those coming from out of town for meetings in the office. I hosted my new church family in Tamale for times of fellowship and counseling.
It was a joy to see the house become what I envisioned it could be. So, I was pretty sad when I had to leave after just a little over two years in the house. The house will continue to hold incredible memories for me.
I was glad to see the house again on November 20th, 2017 during my Tamale Homecoming. It was taken over by an International Agency working in the Northern Region of Ghana. I was right when I said the house would eventually go to the highest bidder—it became the office of the Agency. With a dear friend working as a staff in the office, I had the opportunity of entering the building and the rooms again and was astonished at the continued transformation of the building.
Sometimes, what we see before us is a mess; the consequences of bad decisions, neglect, and failures. When we look beyond the mess, and we see with God’s eyes, we can envision what the mess can become with the redeeming and transforming love of God. With great determination and concerted efforts, we transformed a dilapidated building into a comfortable home and later into an office.
I want to encourage you not to give up on whatever is looking like a real mess before you today. Trust God to open your eyes to see what it can truly become. Trust God to give you His vision for that mess. You will be amazed if you stay focused on that vision and work with God to get there.
What we behold take hold of us. What are you beholding?
The mess or the miracle in the making?
Share with us something that was once a mess in your life that God has turned into a miracle. Let’s inspire and encourage one another.