I love a good fixer upper project, especially one done around my house. There is just something so satisfying about being able to take a piece of furniture, a room, or a living space and bring it back to life with a little, or a lot, of work.
Somehow, in moving out on my own and acquiring family furniture, I lucked into the kitchen table that my dad gave my mom for Christmas when I was four years old. I have had this table in my possession for several years, but it wasn’t until we moved into the house we live in now that we actually had room to use it. I had been thinking about refinishing it for a while and last summer, I finally decided to go for it.
After enlisting the help of a friend of mine who is very talented and experienced with this sort of project, we picked a Friday night to get it done. We worked for several hours and put a lot of elbow grease into scraping and sanding the old finish off. The next morning, I was very eager to get back into the garage and finish the project. I’ll spare you all of the details and make a long story short – instead of spending Saturday morning staining and finishing the project, I spent all day sanding and sanding and sanding, some more. Sometime Saturday evening, I finally got the stain applied to the look that I desired and later that night I got two coats of polyurethane down. Feeling satisfied with my progress, I shut the doors to the garage and cleaned up from the day.
After resting on the couch for a while, I decided to admire my work one more time before heading to bed, only to find air bubbles and a white hazy finish. After a long and emotional phone call with my Dad, I spent more time on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening sanding and applying more polyurethane and finally finished it! I guess I failed to mention above that I’m no Joanna Gaines and I had never actually attempted a project of this size before. However, with the help of my friend and my Dad, I was able to transform our table into my masterpiece.
This past Sunday, Jeff wrapped up our first Think to Change trilogy of the Summer. In his message, he read the following quote:
“That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Hearing the last sentence brought memories of this project to my mind and I made a connection I’d never made before. . . I am a fixer upper.
When Matt Simpson taught on the first part of this trilogy, his main point was that we cooperate with the transformative work of the Holy Spirit through a lifestyle of training wisely, not trying harder. Since the first few months after I began attending Northstar until now, I have known, believed, and lived out, albeit painful at times, the transformation that Paul writes about in Romans 12. My salvation experience is not a jaw-dropping story, but after walking away from church for over ten years, the story of my first true encounter with God after returning was a point of a dramatic transformation.
I think back to who I was before early 2015 and that woman is almost unrecognizable, and every time I think about her, I am filled with amazement and thanksgiving. I have always struggled with anxiety and perfectionism but through daily surrender and dependence on the Lord, I have found freedom from worry and am learning to accept imperfections. I loved that when Matt Kesler walked us through the Lord’s Prayer during the second message in this trilogy, he reminded us of the importance of that daily dependence.
When Jeff wrapped things up this past Sunday, he specifically pointed out that in Philippians 4:6-7, we are commanded not to worry and to present our requests to God. One of the most impactful things I think he said was that, “peace doesn’t come as a result of an answer to a specific prayer request. It comes from praying.” So, he urged us not to seek peace, but to seek our Father instead.
From the moment we accept Jesus into our hearts until the moment we are reunited with Him in Heaven, we will be on a constant journey of transformation. We will find our selves being sanded and stained, and sanded again. What a privilege it is to be loved by Him, to know Him, and to have the opportunity to fellowship with Him through prayer. I can’t think of anyone greater and wiser to cast my cares upon.