When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I had to find a project to use up the restless energy that always accompanied my pregnancies. I decided to refinish a dresser. That’s right. How hard could it be? We had inherited a dresser from my mom and dad when we got married. It had been made by my grandfather years before when he was a missionary in Kenya and helped run a woodworking shop where the students at the Bible school there earned a living. It is huge and had been painted an antique sea-green color. I bought some paint stripper at the hardware store, got a scraper and thought it would be a breeze. You just strip off the old paint and put on new finish right?
It turned out to be a long, painstaking project. Those chemical paint strippers help but they don’t remove all the paint for you. You have to scrape and sand and scrape some more. There are grooves in the front of the drawers and those were especially tricky – getting all the paint out of the cracks and crevices so there was no trace of that yucky green. After the paint had been stripped, sanding had to be done and lots of it. Then it all had to be wiped down so there was no leftover sawdust to mar the shiny surface when I applied the finish.
It was beautiful when it was done but there were several days I thought about throwing in the towel. Good grief! It was hard work and took a long time. I tend to run out of patience for jobs that take a really long time. I’m so glad I persisted because the dresser looked so much better when finished and I still use it in my bedroom as my own.
A few years ago we pulled up 40-year-old sculpted carpet, dark brown linoleum squares and plywood held down by about a bazillion staples in our front room and hallway. Underneath all of that we discovered a hardwood floor. It was one of the biggest projects we’ve done but all the sanding and refinishing was definitely worth it! The original turned out to be so much more appealing than the old carpet and plywood on top of it.
Yesterday I posted a thought from the book I’m reading about how when God makes us “new creations” like it says in the Bible, He doesn’t throw out the raw material. It’s more like he is restoring us to our original beauty, even more so to the beauty of what we were intended to be. When we’re born we’re already dinged and damaged by sin. As life goes by and we grow older we seem to get covered by more and more layers of sin, mistakes, hurts, misunderstandings, faulty thinking, etc. Sometimes we’ve actually covered or painted ourselves because we feel we’re not good enough or think we can improve ourselves by adding something this world promises will help. Just like my dresser couldn’t strip itself or the floor refinish itself, we can’t restore ourselves. I can’t be the me God means me to be without surrendering to his skillful hand, letting him scrape off the dingy layers, sand away rough edges and flaws, and cover me with the beautiful finish of his love and grace. It’s a long, ongoing process…in fact it will take all my life. It often hurts but it I know it will be worth it.
Someday we will finally be with Jesus forever and won’t have to worry with renovation or restoration anymore. We will be completely and utterly whole, without flaw, without sin, pure and perfect. Until then, Lord, scrape away!