One of the things I take pleasure in is taking a piece of old furniture and giving new life to it. The older, outdated, uglier and hopeless, the better! For each scuff, abrasion, injury I lovingly examine and determine my course of action for it. I see them not as something to be hidden rather to be transformed and beautified. I see my work likened to the grace of our Lord Jesus. He takes our lives as we surrender to Him and make what was once was old, offensive and hopeless and gives us new life. He brushes His grace as I do my paint and removes the shame and replaces it with spiritual beauty for all to see and will glorify His name.
My restoration process relies upon grace as the process IS ABOUT adapting to the challenges that are certain to come without exception. Just as it is with our lives, as we walk in the Lord’s grace we will stumble and even fall because we still live in body’s of flesh and a sinful world. The Lord will not abandon us in our failure but will pick us back up so we may continue in His grace according to our need. Our lives depend upon His grace!
Likewise, for this reason, I do not like to take on custom work because when I do, I no longer have this freedom and become confined to limitations. In the challenges and flaws I otherwise use as a place I build character and uniqueness becomes something altogether different and a frustration!
I had a neighbor ask if I would paint her bedroom suite. For some reason, without any hesitation, I said, ‘sure!’ I heard my words come out of my mouth and knew this was not good but reasoned, how hard could this job be? Pretty straightforward I told myself. I failed to recall that the custom projects I have done in the past I increase my expectation to 1000% which turns me into a neurotic lunatic that allows for zero mistakes. So, as I begin, with each painted coat I am careful to leave no brush strokes which requires frequent sanding. I sand away so much that the corners end up being rubbed bare. Specific request was to not have a ‘shabby chic’ look, so this was to be the beginning of a series of challenges and what I normally call my labor of love into a seemingly unending nightmare of unforgiving and relentless judgement.
I have a shop in the lower part of our home. Not only is it where I love to work, but it is where I talk to the Lord. Where I listen to my audio bible and my favorite teachers and preachers and where I pray ongoing and dialogue with the Lord a great deal. Essentially, my shop is my sanctuary, where I meet with God. In particular, this day, as I am going through this now tormenting cruel task, I ask, ‘Lord, is there something I can learn about the things of God in this?’ Continuing, I go about this job in solemn silence as all joy has fled and it has turned into hard labor. With each difficulty that presents and the harder I try to improve, the worse and more grief I add to my plight. By this time, I am a few days in 25 hours or so. At this point I am now trying to come up with how I am going to find another suite for my neighbor and the expense and all the rest and it feels like a pool I am drowning in. I am about to quit and call this a irreparably disaster so I stop and sit down. My question to God has a desperate appeal now, as I try to compose myself. I ask in my defeat, ‘Father, let me hear your heart.’
That instant, I saw a picture of how the letter of the Law plays out in our lives when we abide in its rule and sit under it. The Law is for good is perfect and right. It’s job is not to change us, but to reveal our need to change. It will always only point to us our flaw, or sin. The Law makes no allowance for grace – AT ALL Previous to all this, one of my prayer requests was for a more clear understanding of Law & Grace. As you would have it, this was the answer! No, this is not anything new but He allowed through this experience what FEELS like when we remain under its rule.
Next to how I normally do my work, in one moment, God gave me a beautiful picture of His grace in contrast to the Letter of the Law. His Spirit is the paint brush of grace and where He is there is freedom.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor 3:17.
The Law is good and is meant to point us to Jesus as we realize our need for His grace. Grace (Jesus) takes our weaknesses so He may reveal His glory to those around us. When we surrender our lives to Him, daily – He does His work to restore us by His grace. When left solely in the hands of the Law, we will live hopeless and futile lives trying to ‘fix’ ourselves. We will only dig deeper into greater condemnation as we do! When we put ourselves into Jesus’s Hands – He will join in His restoration to where we become His workmanship and a work of beauty in the Lords sight.
The bedroom suite worked out in the end. After all this, all that I saw that was so wrong was not, and my neighbor was very pleased with her new suite.
Here are a few of my exhibits of grace: