if you are an avid social media user and follow me on twitter or facebook or instagram, then you're probably well aware of the activities i've been engaged in as of late. namely: painting. we moved out of one house and [eventually] moved into another. as is often the case, there were several changes we wanted to make to the house and property to make it more, well, our own. we decided to do as much of the work as possible ourselves. and a large part of that work, for me, has involved painting... walls, doors, window trim, floors, cabinets, cupboards, drawers... you name it, i've probably painted it in the last month. i've taken the painting on as my own personal project. but what i initially considered to be a fairly simple undertaking turned into a far larger part of my every-single-day than i expected. for one thing, there were A LOT more things i wanted to coat with color (or in my case non-color because i've literally painted EVERYTHING white) than i thought there would be. it's that domino effect... once you paint one thing then you're like, well now i have to paint that too. and where do you stop? in my case, well, you don't!
we are now 40 days in and i'm slowing down. there are still a few projects on the horizon, but i've decided to just finish what's currently important and in process... mainly getting our office back up and running. and we still haven't quite moved everything in to the house... because... painting.
as i wrap up my major painting projects and begin to rein in my obsession... and attempt to establish some normalcy (haha good one) ... i wanted to share one of the lessons i've learned in this last month. there are several.... lessons to be learned from painting i mean... but today i've chosen just one.
my friend Leah used this term the other day as we discussed some of life's little obstacles and frustrations. and i thought... i have used a lot of sand paper lately. i wouldn't have understood how it so appropriately applied to me before, but having used it quite a bit in recent days, i get it.
the very official (read: wikipedia) definition of sand paper is as follows:
Sandpaper is part of the "coated abrasives" family of abrasive products. It is used to remove small amounts of material from surfaces, either to make them smoother (for example, in painting and wood finishing), to remove a layer of material (such as old paint), or sometimes to make the surface rougher (for example, as a preparation to gluing).
i would like to confess here that, as an amateur painter, i did the very least amount of sanding possible. for one thing, it was hard. i sanded the first few things i painted rather thoroughly, but then it was just too hard so i simply ran a single sheet of sand paper over the edges real quick. also, it took a long time. far too time consuming considering i had ALL this stuff to paint! who has time for the extra work?!
i hear the pro's not only thoroughly sand prior to painting, but after painting they sand again. then apply another coat of paint. then sand again. then apply another coat of paint. and so on and so forth until it's perfect. hence the price of professional painting. hence my new found love/hate for DIY. but i digress...
here's the application. God uses the frustrations and irritations and obstacles we encounter in our lives like sand paper. they can be abrasive, and hard, and time consuming. they can seem pointless and unnecessary. they can be painful and ugly and sad. however, as the epitome of a professional painter, God uses them to refine us and smooth us out and make us beautiful, preparing us for what's to come. we sometimes, often times, prefer to take short cuts. i know i'd rather avoid the real work of forgiveness and discipline and sacrifice but still like to see the same results of blessing and success and favor. but no. pure gold is only brought forth from fire. the process of testing and refining is invaluable. it's where the lessons are learned.
the verse's that i've chosen to memorize and meditate on this month... the STANDard i choose to rally under for October... are:
Psalm 66: 9+10+16
"...He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping;
for you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver'
come and hear, all you who fear God... let me tell you
what He has done for me!..."
i love that the Psalmist says God has kept our feet from slipping but in the same breath acknowledges being tested. i don't know... in my flesh i would NOT typically associate refining (testing) and rescue (feet from slipping). and yet it is in the refining that we are rescued... though it doesn't usually feel like it at the time. and then, in verse 16, he says he is going to tell everyone all about it. because it's in the telling that we find our purpose. Isaiah 61:3 says that God gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair! why? as a planting of the Lord for the DISPLAY OF HIS SPLENDOR. for others to see an example of what God can do. we give each other hope as we make it up and out of that refining fire. we can't help but tell what He's done for us!
"i fell... got all tangled up and tripped. but God let me see His hand of mercy in it. i cried and cried and wanted to quit. i was so hurt and angry i wanted to hit something. or someone. but God showed me grace and lifted my head up so i could see his. which is the only face that matters. and i'm better. i'm whole. i'm his. and i want you to know about it. because he'll do the same for you"
what has he done for you???