There’s this idea that goes around that when God comes into your life, everything becomes easy, that there is no longer any trouble. It’s true, God gives contentment and joy that runs deep but it’s never without trials.
Recently, I’ve been in a farming community in the Free State of South Africa called Frankfort. It’s incredibly beautiful and each farm, each house, and all of the people is a reminder to me that God is good. I’ve been reminded that seeds planted will harvest but there has to be proper care of those seeds. I’ve loved seeing God work and I’ve loved the reminders but the one that stuck with me the most is how God refines us and makes us new.
The team I am with and I have been working alongside the staff at Kainos: helping sand and paint Aniko place, a home for fatherless children. One of the days we were in the house and my job was to sand walls. This doesn’t sound very fun, but I was having a rough day and it was nice to pray things out and talk to God while I was mindlessly sanding.
It was during those hours that God reminded me of the process He brings us through in life. Our goal is to be more like Him and to do that it’s just like a building. Our base is Him. Everything else is part of the process He brings us through. Once the walls, roof, windows, and everything is done it seems like it is the end of the process.
But then comes the refining process.
As I stood there sanding the walls that day, God reminded me that this is what He is doing with me, with all of us. He is sanding our walls. He is pointing out in us what is not of Him and He is taking it away. This isn’t a process that can be done in a day. Sometimes just the sanding can take years.
There are things in my life that since I began a relationship with Christ I have had to give to Him over and over again. I have cried, and prayed, and cried some more and God is still sanding these thoughts and my past away. Most days, I can only pray that I know God has a plan and I will trust Him, but there always comes a time that the final sanding day comes and I can let go of one more thing that has previously held me back.
The rest of the house is just details. Paint is an important one. But usually you cannot just paint one coat. The paint is God’s promises over us. The paint is what God says about us. The paint is His truth coming over us. And it’s never just a one and done thing, it’s always multiple layers of paint, and designs. Those are our hopes and our dreams that God aligns with His.
And this is where God makes us new.
Honestly, most of my time with God has been lived in the sanding process. Most of my life I’ve been wrestling with God about things that have happened, about failures, about hurts, about pain that I think will never go away. And it’s during that sanding process that I am constantly reminded of God’s unfailing love for me, for us. He loves me too much to just leave me in my hurts and thoughts. He wants to bring us out in the paint, in the beautiful design He has for our lives. I’ve been there a few times too, little by little; God is revealing more of Himself. When I’m uncertain, I go back to God and I am back in the sanding process of God making me new one step at a time.
That’s all I need to know, that God is still working one step at a time, that He still has a plan for me. And I know He does. On the best days, I’m very confident in that, but on my worst, my first stop should always be to God, to the sanding, to the painting and reminding myself how far God has brought me.
It took a day of sanding and paint and some time crying out to God to remind me that it’s okay. It’s okay if we are in a season of sanding, of God taking off layers that He doesn’t want there and replacing them with layers of Himself. It’s okay if you are in the painting season where God is showing you His plans for you. And it’s also okay if you are on the mountaintop of living out God’s plans for you. We will go through each season from sanding to full paint often in our lives. The most important part is to remember God. Remember the Redeemer. Remember who goes before, with and after you and everything will be okay. There’s Hope in each season and that’s a truth I am thankful for. So no, when you accept God, it isn’t a “get out of jail free” card. It’s an invitation to have someone with you through the pain, through the heartache, and into the best times of your lives. All you have to do is let Him come with you. Maybe you only have a foundation right now in your house, but with God, you will eventually have a beautiful house full of His promises and love.
Inside Aniko’s place where we are painting
Kids from the camp for the Fatherless in front of Anikos Place