This weekend, my husband Scott and I painted our bedroom. Neither of us enjoys painting but he had a three-day weekend and we just bought a new bedding set on clearance. It was time.
After multiple trips to Home Depot with kids in tow we finally had picked our colors and were ready to slap it up on the walls. That was Friday but we didn’t actually finish the project until Sunday. We worked on it everyday this weekend for a few hours while the kids were sleeping but when it comes to painting, the prep work takes longer than the actual painting.
You have to move all the furniture and take everything off of the walls. Then comes the taping (oh the taping!) and the cutting in, where you take a paint brush to all of the edges on the walls and another to your sanity. Finally, after all of these steps are finished, you can take a roller and glide the paint on the walls in no time and you’re left wondering how the majority of the walls are covered in a fraction of the time it took to do the rest of the work. That’s painting for you though; a slow and steady process that, at times, doesn’t have obvious results.
As I sat hunched over in the corner of my bedroom, taping off a baseboard I started thinking about how painting is a lot like the way that God works in us. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like the progress He’s making on our behalf is very obvious. We know better than to think this because the Bible tells us so but still, sometimes we look at our lives, the white walls in our minds and hearts that we wish would just be transformed and wonder where all the paint is.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
Sometimes, we look around at whatever struggle we’re facing and hold that verse up to it and wonder what God is doing. Where is that complete work he’s talking about? The one that has grace and strength and joy and righteousness slathered up on the wall like paint from a roller?
What if, like Scott and I this weekend, He’s just doing all of the prep work? I mean if redoing a room took a while to prepare for, then how much more a whole life?
Maybe, just maybe, in this time that you’re waiting for that transformation to come, God is laying the framework. If you could peek into the walls of your heart, perhaps you would see His Holy Spirit lovingly hunched over in the corner, taping off the edges, preparing for the clean and redemptive work of Christ. Or maybe you’ve started to see little changes in your life. You can feel your mind and heart beginning to transform but you still sense the temptation to go back to the way you thought before. He’s cutting in friends, and with each stroke taking back ground in your life and claiming it for the makeover.
You might be looking at yourself and, based on the place that you’re at, the one that still struggles with temptation or anxiety, the one that hasn’t seen victory over the white space in your life and you might wonder where that “good work He began” is going to show up.
The God that I know always finishes what He started and if you have allowed Him into your life, then you know that He’s started something. If you let Him, He’ll stay there in your hearts room until the job is done, but He doesn’t cut corners and He does all things well. He will do all that He needs to complete the work and sometimes that means that we need to allow for the prep work.
Allow things to be moved and taken down. Allow boundaries to be set in your life and let that new color tinted with His power and grace take over from the edges on out. Ask the Lord to give you a sensitivity to what it is He’s trying to do in your life and bring Him that paint brush when He asks for it.
Don’t doubt the progress that He’s making on your behalf. Every step of the process counts and in the end, it will be obvious – He’s making all things new.