Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Metaphors That Work for Me

   I made a new friend yesterday. I had a wonderful girl I met online through her blog come over and give me some design and color advice. I think it might possibly be some of the best money I have ever spent. She tweaked a few things in two rooms and gave me some great suggestions. She was also very complimentary while helping me to move in a different direction in a couple of areas. I would recommend The Decorologist to anyone!
   Because she inspired me to do a paint and glazing treatment on a piece of furniture that I have disliked forever, I have been sanding away this morning. I talk to the Lord about anything and everything. It makes for some interesting conversations at times. I dragged the piece of furniture out to the backporch, put down a drop cloth, found some steel wool and a fine grain of sandpaper and went to work. I had been instructed to get the shine off the furniture so that the primer and then the paint would adhere properly. I immediately started thinking about my spiritual life. I am always trying to spit, polish, and shine myself up. I don't do this for God as much as I do it for the benefit of others. I have always been approval based, so one of my weaknesses is that I want others to think highly of me. It is an area in which I am moving toward freedom, but I still find that I have the need to put the proverbial lip gloss on my life, especially when I am under scrutiny.
   The steel wool didn't cut it for me. Even with all the elbow grease behind my rubbing, the steel wool was simply too soft. I set it aside and pulled out the sandpaper. I knew it would work, but I also knew that the process would be much messier and more difficult. It was. I started with the big piece of sandpaper and quickly learned that I had to move with the grain of the wood. I chuckled when I began to make the spiritual connections again. So God moves with the grain of my personality. He does not seek to willingly afflict or grieve my spirit any more than is absolutely necessary, but He knows that the character that lies underneath the shine must be vulnerable to His touch in order for His purposes to prevail. The shine of the finish represents my own attempts to achieve holiness or goodness or my desire to hide the imperfections and the flaws that I find so unattractive in myself.
   Guess what? As I continued to sand, the glossy finish disappeared and something wonderful began to happen: the natural grain and beauty of the wood began to emerge. Yes, there were imperfections, but under the sanding they began to take on a different aspect; they actually began to add to the character of the piece. Even though the table and I were all too soon covered in dust, debris, and detritus, I could see the true beauty beginning to shine forth. It was nothing like the glossy finish of before --the artificiality of canned perfection had disappeared and the underlying nature of the wood was revealed.
   After the sanding was completed, I took slightly dampened paper towels and wiped the piece down. I took my time. I didn't rush through the process. Once again, I went with the grain of the wood and removed as much of the dust as I possibly could. The work was satisfying. If you gave a cursory look at the piece, it looked clean but I knew that there were still grains of dust that I could not remove.
   Are we not like this with our sin? We shrink from the sanding process. We want to be bathed in God's mercy all of the time and not experience any difficulty whatsoever. But those who are born and conceived in sin do not readily become Holy. It requires transformation: a rebirth and a continuing cycle of sanctification. We would do well to remember that the birthing process is always painful or at least every one of mine were. And sanctification. Well sanctification can look very much like the sanding process. But it has a purpose. An important purpose. We are being made anew into the image of the Firstborn Son.
   I should be thankful that sanding furniture is my spiritual lesson for the day. It puts me in mind of one of my favorite Frederick Buechner quotes,
            "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less
            than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it,
             because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace." 
                                         — Frederick Buechner (Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation)
   So the long and the short of it is that I found mystery and grace in the midst of my sanding. And an admonition as well: I definitely don't want to get sidetracked with the whitewashing. I do not want to end up with anything remotely resembling a whited sepulchre. My erstwhile shiny self already resembles a Pharisee all too often as it is. But then again...there is grace. Sandpaper grace. But transformative grace nonetheless. And for that I say, thank you, dear Lord.
     Paint Brush Still Life No.1

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment. We appreciate your input and feedback! Have a blessed day!