By Mary Donnelly
I’ve been giving our kitchen a long overdue facelift, a project I’ve put off for several years, knowing the work that would be involved once I committed to peeling that first section of wallpaper. I truly wished I could just paint over the paper and give it a fresh look without all the hassle. Basically, I wanted the best results with minimal effort.
As with most things in life, it doesn’t work like that. If you want the best finished product, you have to do the work without skipping any steps. For the finished product to be useful, valuable, and beautiful, you have to have the understanding that each step is preparing the way for the next to be built upon. Time to bite the bullet.
So began the tedious work of peeling wallpaper. I was already regretting it with those first few stubborn strips. But I had committed myself, so I could either do this begrudgingly or make the best of it. I put on a pot of coffee, cranked some music, and started talking to Jesus while I peeled and scraped. Any time spent with Jesus is time well spent! You end up finding out that what you’re doing doesn’t matter as much as who you’re doing it with.
I started to see that my little project was much like God’s work in us. We come to him in bad need of repair and will surely need some “updates” along the way. He’s always working in our lives to make us more useful, valuable, and beautiful for His kingdom purposes on this earth. I think many of us are tempted to think we can just throw a fresh coat of paint over all the outdated (the old man), if not badly damaged, areas of our lives and nobody will notice. Isn’t it enough if we just try to look pretty on the outside?
But God cares about what’s underneath it all. And honestly, it doesn’t look as pretty as we think anyway. Those cracks, bumps, and little holes will start to be revealed, and all the mess that was never taken care of properly before slathering on all that pretty paint.
When we surrender to Him, He mercifully strips away every layer of the “wallpaper” of our hearts and minds: old thought patterns and mindsets, ideals, wounds and hurts, etc. As merciful and gracious as He is, the scraping away can feel quite painful. And even more painful can be the mess that is revealed, as we are exposed with each layer that is removed. You may want to run, but now is the time to keep surrendering to His process.
He lovingly and tenderly patches up each little nail hole (old wounds) and marred areas (life leaves its mark on us all). We feel a little less exposed. He lets that dry. We find ourselves cringing as He sandpapers over the hole He patched, until we realize how smooth it looks and feels. When you run your hand across it, you can’t even tell there was ever a hole. You find you don’t even mind the little patch of white that tells you that’s the spot where there was once a hole or marred area, because you know that’s the area that He repaired.
When all the walls are ready, He begins to apply the first coat of paint. It looks so beautiful! It was so worth the process to make sure you were ready to support the beauty of His finished work in you. Surrendering to the process becomes less and less painful and actually starts to fill you with joy. You find that complaining through it only makes it worse, but praising Him through it makes it more than bearable.
When the room is complete, you can invite others in to enjoy its beauty. “Come, sit, get comfortable, and stay a while. I can prepare you a meal. Sit at my table and let me serve you.” You can offer all this to others because you allowed Jesus to do His complete work. (I always served others in my outdated kitchen as well. It’s good to remember that we don’t have to be perfect to serve or for God to use us!)
That’s just one room. Are you ready to start on the next? Each room will be another area of your life that will be fully repaired and will allow you to serve in a new capacity!
He is always working in us, and as we surrender to Him, He will make us into something more useful, valuable, and beautiful!
Mary Donnelly is a follower and servant of Jesus, who is the love of her life, along with her husband, Frank, their three wonderful children, and their grandson, who is their sheer delight. Her prayer and her quest is to be transformed into God’s image more and more each day. One of her greatest pleasures is studying God’s word and applying it to her everyday life. She is a woman who knows what it means to live in captivity, bound by fears, lies, and her own brokenness, but she rejoices today because she is also a woman who knows what it means to be set free! One of her greatest passions is to share God’s truths in a way that will shine a light to another sojourner on the pathway to freedom.