In the six years since we bought a home built in 1901, I have spent quite a bit of time stripping paint off doors, trim, and walls. The accretions of the ages had become ugly and needed to come off so that repairs could be made and fresh new paint applied. When we bought it, the real estate agent said that the house "was a grand old lady in need of being grand again", and by now, indeed, she must be smiling!
But while I was stripping paint, I had a lot of time to think, and, sometimes, that can be productive. God usually has some lessons for me to learn in the things that I am engaged in. For example, it's too bad that the need for stripping "the accretions of the ages" in our lives weren't as obvious to our eyes as the old paint! With the psalmist, I asked:
Psalm 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (KJV)
I was also asking God, what is in my life that shouldn't be? How do I strip away things like pride, fear, self-centredness, and criticism? I try to keep my heart right with God, but sometimes, things creep in that I don't even see. Others are not always willing to point out our faults, partly because we are not always ready to accept them graciously, and partly because they don't want to be accused either. We don't have enough love for that.
Proverbs 6:16-19 – These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. (NKJV)
We often excuse our sins as being no big deal, but God wants us to tell ourselves the truth. He is in the business of renovating us until we shine. There's an old children's hymn, "When He cometh", that refers to His people as shining jewels and bright gems:
- When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels …
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.
– William O. Cushing
Malachi 3:17a – "They shall be Mine," says the Lord of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels." (NKJV)
What is the cry of your heart to God? Can you pray like this:
Prayer: Lord, show me what needs to be stripped from my life and lead me in the way everlasting. I ask You for the grace and strength that I need to persevere, until I shine as a bright gem for Your crown. Amen.