With keys in hand and gratitude in my heart, I walked into our new home. Finally.
“Every great idea breaks down into a lot of hard work,” echoed in my head. Oh, those rascally words. Too true, indeed.
It was going to be a lot of hard work.
Though my mind wanted to focus on the things we would leave to the professionals, the daunting task of painting every wall, ceiling, and linear foot of trim in the house was calling my name. And it wasn’t even being polite.
Because my painting skills are subpar, I am mostly trusted with the grunt work: filling nail holes, sanding, and priming. It’s agony. Pure agony for a big picture, let’s make this place beautiful in a hurry kind of girl! Yes. I prefer pointing. But not this time.
With a sanding block in one hand and a damp cloth in the other, I looked around at the battered and bruised walls and began. I could hardly focus on the task because I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to fast forward through the process. I was tempted to skimp on the sanding. To forgo the priming. Just throw some paint up on the wall. Hang a new light fixture. To get to the pretty part!
But I knew better. Experience had been my teacher.
Skimping on the sanding would mean ugly finishes later. Skipping the priming would allow stains to leach through, requiring more coats of paint later. Short cuts always cost us more in the long run. Doing the hard work is essential for the best results.
The job was messy. As dust danced in the air and primer dripped down my arm, I wrestled with my own thoughts to cheat. I laughed aloud at myself and brushed primer on another shelf.
“Make it pretty, and hurry it up!” That refrain reverberated in my heart and my mind.
I am not a fan of the process. But it seems as though God is.
From the beginning, He spoke the world into being. He fashioned the first man and woman with His very own hands. But He continued all things by His laws of nature. Physics. Chemistry. Biology. Process.
And then when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, and broken began, He didn’t just speak redemption of all things. His plan began. Process.
With the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s plan of redemption was complete. Jesus said, “It is finished.” His work for us was indeed finished. We can add nothing to the cross.
14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.HEBREWS 10
But His work in us is a process. Our sanctification doesn’t happen in an instant. From the moment we trust Christ, His work of making us like Him begins and He Himself will be faithful to finish until He returns.
We are not commanded to work for our salvation, only to work out our salvation. Oh, I have argued and wrestled and questioned God about this very thing. Why the process? Why can’t His Spirit just hit a reset button and make me like new? Like Him?
Well. I may not have the perfect answer. But…
First of all, I believe God loves watching things grow. He enjoys our becoming. For someone who spent most of her life feeling like God was disappointed in her, this concept was life-changing for me.
And secondly, the process of sanctification grows our faith. In challenging circumstances, self-driven or otherwise, our faith is tested. When we fail, and we all fail, He is faithful to forgive. And He is patient in our process of becoming.
When Jesus came, He came full of grace and truth. His truth exposes our sin. Grace covers our sin. But it also gives us space to grow in our faith. To practice walking worthy of our calling to follow Jesus. To become like Him. And our capacity for surrendering what we want most for God’s best grows with each tiny victory.
Growing to a place of surrendering what we want most in return for God’s best is the process of sanctification. And my friends, there is no shortcut. It’s going to be a lot of hard work.
Oh, yea. I wish God would just douse us with a fresh coat of paint and hang a pretty light fixture. You know, “Make it pretty and hurry it up!” He could have chosen that method. But He did not. And I have come to trust that His way is best. Even when I don’t understand it, I can trust it. Because I can trust Him.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 THESSALONIANS 5
Father, You are good and Your mercy endures forever. I thank You for your steadfast love for me. My life is secure in You, because of You. Lord, give me eyes to see like You see and a heart to choose what You love. And Father when I fall short, when I fail, may I be quick to recognize it. And may I be willing to surrender what I want most to Your very best. I pray this in this the name of Jesus. May it be so.
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