I have started listening recently to a Christian radio. One of the programs that I have enjoyed listening to while I am getting ready to leave of a morning is Chuck Swindoll. He has some powerful messages. Some mornings I don’t get to do my devotions and this is my substitute.
One of the many obstacles in my life he has been talking about a lot. He does a sermon series and usually speaks on the same subject for several days. This one caught my attention since I struggle with it. Where I volunteer we say prayers before we open the door to welcome our clients. That particular morning our Office Manager prayed and she mentioned the subject I deal with. I started out that morning after listening to Chuck’s message feeling very convicted. I was feeling defeated knowing I struggle with this all the time. I opened my Facebook account and saw a notification. I had written an article the day before which is not unusual, but this morning I received a notification someone had shared my devotion. I went in to look and not only did she share my article, but she wrote about how this was the very thing she was struggling with and it was perfect. She went on to offer some kind words of praise. I was humbled. I smiled thanking God for the lift. He showed me what I needed to work on and then went on to show me I am okay. I am not as bad as I would have myself to believe. We are our worst critics and we are harder on ourselves than anyone else or God. It was a gentle reminder I needed to work on this area of my life.
As I was working later that day, an image of a piece of wood popped into my mind with someone using sandpaper to smooth the rough edges. God very clearly relayed the message that was me. I was a piece of wood and He was the one using the sandpaper to smooth the edges.
My husband and I have taken on building projects. Several pieces of our furniture at home either he as built, I have built or we have built together. We have built things for others as well. Now I am the type of person that wants to build it and use it the same day. My husband being craftier, a wiser builder and patient when it comes to building things knows that it is unlikely it will be used any time soon. He often reminds me it is a slow process and time consuming. A slow process and time consuming? Ugh! But I want it now.
When we come to God he does not perfect us. I think God put Jesus into a construction family for a reason. I am thinking Jesus needed to learn to take a piece of wood and begin to build something out of it. I think he understood that when all the pieces are all together it’s still not finished. I think his dad taught him about sanding things down and getting rid of all the rough edges so those rough edges wouldn’t hurt someone. After some sanding and maybe putting a coat on it, it is finished. A beautiful finished project that is worthy to be used.
I think that’s the way it is with us. When we first come to God we are a piece of wood. He takes us and begins to build us into something he can use. I also think we change during the building part of our lives. He might have an idea what he is building, but because we make decisions often without him and because we go in a different direction his plans change for us and he moves us in a different direction. When we get older we may be built, but the process is far from being done. After getting built we go through the process of having our rough edges smoothed so we can’t hurt others. My husband will sand away for hours and I think surely it’s done, but he will feel it, touch it and look at it just to find a rough edge somewhere. I think that’s the way God is. He works on a part of our lives until the roughness is gone. We think we are ready to go on to the next step when we find God has found another rough spot and he’s sanding away again. It’s a continual process. It’s slow and it’s time consuming, but God knows best. If we are used too early those rough spots can harm someone. Ever picked up a piece of wood to get a splinter in your finger? Or a piece of wood is sticking out and you get pricked by it? Those are uncomfortable and not enjoyable.
Those rough edges we often display need sanded down. This was a time God found a rough spot and knew it needed sanded down before I hurt someone. My husband will go over the same spot several times before he moves on. That’s the way it is with God. Even though we had been through this several times I still was not smooth enough in this area to please God. God will stay in this area until I get it right or at least until it is smooth enough I won’t hurt anyone. If I want God to move on and work in other areas of my life I have to get this right. Philippians 1:6 reminds me of God’s promise, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Finally, after the project is finished my husband will put a finishing coat on the piece he has been working on, bring it in and say it is finished. He is proud of his work. I smile and thank God for my husband for the time and amount of work he has put in to finishing it. It is beautiful; I am proud and very thankful even though I had long given up on it. My husband was faithful and diligent to finish it and make it something we both can be proud of and it can be used without harm to anyone.
That’s the way I need to be toward God. I need not to give up on God’s work on me. I need to be diligent and let God continually work on me in areas that He deems necessary to keep me from hurting others. Then one of these days I will be a finished project and both God and I will smile and think how beautiful He crafted me and when I enter those gates of Heaven I will know I am finished and others may begin to enjoy me.
Remember this children’s song: CHORUS: He’s still workin’ on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be, He’s still workin’ on me! VERSE 1: There really ought to be a sign upon my heart, “Don’t judge me yet, there’s an unfinished part.” But I’ll be perfect, just according to His plan, Fashioned by the Master’s loving hand.
We are all being fashioned by the Master’s loving hand. We are all at times being smoothed out and our rough edges will disappear. I don’t know if I’ve got this or not. I don’t know if God’s ready to move on to another rough spot or not, but I do know it’s not so bad being sanded by the one who knows what you will be when he’s finished.
If God is sanding you and you’re having trouble with the process just smile and know someday it will all be worth it. You too are being fashioned by the Master’s loving hand and you too will one day be beautiful and be ready to be handed over to the one who designed you.
Dear God: I think I know now why you chose Jesus to live with a carpenter. He needed to know how to build me, how to smooth out the rough edges and you taught him it will be a slow, tedious process. Sometimes I want this part of my life to be over with and to get on with the final design, but then I know I am not ready. Jesus is preparing me for that special day when all the sanding will be done and He can take me to His Father and say it is done. Remind me not to give up and to be diligent. Let me be willing to be sanded down until the final bit of roughness is all gone. Thank you for gentle reminders of your love, grace and mercy. Amen
1] © 1980 by Hemphill Music Company/BMI. All rights reserved.