“The heater’s gone again.” I said to my husband one chilly morning while driving him to work. He leant forward in the passenger seat and placed his hand somewhere under the glove compartment. Like magic, there was a soft blowy noise and warm air began to circulate round our new car.

Yes I said ‘new’. Not brand spanking new, just new to us. And of course when we took it for a test drive, it behaved like a child that’s been made to sit in the front row. Perfect behaviour. The engine ran smoothly and no problems showed up at all. But when we took ‘baby’ home, we discovered there is a minor electrical fault which causes the heater to periodically stop working. This is not too bad in itself, but when it switches off, it triggers the side lights and they come on, shining in all their glory. Yesterday it kept switching on and off so rapidly, that I was concerned that the drivers coming towards me may assume I was flashing them, which of course has the potential to be dangerous.

It made me think about the difficulty of viewing houses. Even though we know we will be forking out hundreds of thousands of cash, we are timid to be seen checking things, especially if it’s not a vacant property and the current owners are following us around. So if there are problems, we do not usually find out until our signature is on the dotted line and we have moved our stuff in.

It is then that we discover the damp patches behind the wardrobe, the bath taps are dripping, there’s a squirrel in the loft, three tiles are missing from the roof, and there’s a gorilla next door.

We should really make a more thorough check of the house before we commit to buy, but who walks into somebody’s home and moves the fridge to see if there is mould underneath? Who opens kitchen cupboards and takes out all the pots and pans to discover that the board is warped and ants are coming in from outside? Who lifts up the carpet and discovers rotten floorboards? Who climbs onto the roof to check that the slates are all secure? Who goes into the built-in closets and finds out that behind the clothes is a missing block of wood? Who moves the large mirrors to discover a massive piece of wallpaper has been ripped away?

No-one is that brazen, and so many people often get caught out. The previous owners of our house moved into their new home to discover that there was no electricity at all. They had to get it all rewired and the wife was 41 weeks pregnant!

It is the same with us though isn’t it? We can put on a show and pretend that we are all so holy and nice and sweet and loving, but only God knows the truth. Sometimes we do not even know what we a really like ourselves until a tragedy happens or a big disappointment. It is then the cracks begin to show.

My prayer is that I will allow God to stretch me and convict me and mould me and speak to me so that when the bad times come, I will not leak bitter lemon juice but sweet orange.

Let us not try to be false. It takes less energy being ourselves and being vulnerable before our Creator so that he can get inside and work on us. That way, when people knock against us sharply, our plaster won’t chip.

I want to be a smooth wall – don’t you?