September 15, 2015

Finding God's peace in the midst of life's pain

I know they say not to cry over spilled milk, but what about crying over scraped cabinets?  I haven't shared anything faith-based with you guys lately, but God smacked me in the face with a lesson this weekend and I have really felt it on my heart to share!

I have been refinishing the kitchen cabinets for our new house.  This process has not been a quick one - I started with hours upon hours upon hours of research {ahem, thank you Pinterest}.  I cleaned the cabinets {with a few different methods - I really want them to be durable!}, as well as sanded them lightly.  Gel stain is all the rage these days, but I couldn't find just the shade I wanted in the gel stain {more on that in another post}.  I have ended up using Polyshades, which is stain with polyurethane {a protective coating} already in it.  The Polyshades is the color I wanted, but is somewhat finicky to work with - I learned early on that it will leave drips on the backside of the cabinet if you're not suuuuper careful when applying the stain.  The first round of staining I did, I didn't know this key fact, so a few {LOTS} of the cabinets had atleast a few drips.

You may not see the drips, but they are there.  Our messes aren't always visible!

These drips are so much like the sins, guilt and baggage in our lives... I didn't realize when I was working that I was creating such a mess because I couldn't see it at the time.  Likewise, there have been times when I made a mess of a situation because I didn't have the forward thinking to see the impact my actions would have.

I have spent HOURS {and hours and hours} working on these cabinets.  I used steel wool and sandpaper to try and remove the small bumps from drips and even tried putting another coat of stain over the top to just cover them up.  My mistake was not being cognizant of the fact that the stain was running over the edge.  The result was that little bitty pools of stain were forming on the back side, like little stain bubbles.  I had learned not to make the mistake, but the result of my mistake was still there.  I couldn't make it go away.

Finally, this weekend - I asked Michael to take a look at the cabinets.  He said they looked great but noticed the small mistakes I had made on the first coat of stain.  I could tell from his face that he didn't want to hurt my feelings, but that they were noticeable.  I had already tried to get rid of this mess and I couldn't do it on my own.

To really get rid of the mess my mistake created, Michael had to use a scraper.  He had to remove the mess as well as some good stuff around it.  He had to cut deep to make sure he got all the YUCK out.  After he finished scraping, I had to go along and sand that portion of the cabinet before re-staining it with several layers of stain.  Finally, the cabinets got fixed... they were healed.  The mess wasn't just covered up, but it was revealed and addressed... the cabinets look great now, but it took lots of time and painstaking effort to get there!

As I was working on the cabinets Michael scraped {tears escaping at the utter frustration in the situation}, God really showed His love to me... Have you ever made a mistake and inadvertently messed up, causing yourself or others pain?  How often do we carelessly approach situations, knowing the end result may be bad, but continuing on anyway?  Whether we knew we were creating a mess with our actions or not, we all carry scars from the sins and heartaches of our pasts.  We can try to sand away these scars ourselves... we can try to cover them up {just like I did with the stain}, but the only way for true healing to happen is when God steps in with the scraper.  You have the choice to let God in enough to scrape away the pains, the sins, the mistakes of the past - but it is your choice.  Pursuing true healing often brings those pains back up to the surface... after all, God has to scrape and scrape and scrape to get rid of all the mess we create.  The beauty of the story, though, is that after all that scraping, healing comes!  Once God scrapes away our messes, he gets down to the heart of the issue and heals those deep hurts, then re-seals our lives with grace upon grace upon grace.

It took several coats of stain to re-finish the areas we sanded down, just like God's grace is poured on layer after layer after layer.  I've heard the saying "grace upon grace" before but my thought was really - if God is giving you his grace do you need grace upon grace?

Stain upon stain upon stain.

When you stain a cabinet, it takes several layers of stain to build up the color and the durability of the end product.  Putting one layer of stain changes the color of the wood, but it does not produce a finished cabinet.  Likewise, one helping of God's grace changes us, but his daily grace upon grace upon grace truly transforms us into beings in HIS likeness.

If you find yourself frustrated with your progress or your pain, take a moment to put it into perspective.  When you step into God's workshop, do so with a prayerful heart, aware of the fact that His healing takes time.  This process can be slow; it can be painful; it can seem counterproductive.  We may not know just how much scraping it will take to rid our souls of the residue from our actions.  True healing and transformation takes grace upon grace upon grace.  How incredible that He is willing to invest so much time and love into each of us, scraping and sanding and pouring his grace!