What's more, last week my blog post about peace went right along with the sermon PJ wrote - so much so that he actually ended up reading it as part of his message. It was a last-minute decision on his part, and I didn't know he was going to do that ahead of time. My point is - we didn't talk about these things and purposefully try to line up our thoughts, but obviously God is working on us both in similar ways right now. And though the message is for us - it's not only for us, which is why we are sharing it. Him from behind the pulpit, and me from behind my keyboard. I think we make a pretty good team (you know... when we aren't trying to decide what restaurant to go to... 😉).
What I would like to talk about is... furniture. Oh, but you thought this post was about healing, right? Well, bear with me for a minute.
I like wood furniture. Real wood furniture, not that pressboard stuff. I like to see the grain of the wood. (Maybe that has something to do with me spending so much time in my Grandpa's wood shop as a kid, I don't know... but I do like the smell of sawdust!) I especially like furniture with a little bit of history to it. I like to buy it used. I like how sometimes certain pieces seem to have a story to tell with their patina, including their nicks, scratches, and marks.
The problem with some of that beautiful and unique old wood furniture is that sometimes time has not been too kind to it. It has been well-loved and well-used over the years. That tabletop has dents and scratches from utensils and plates (and dog paws, sometimes). That chair has wobbly legs and a loose rung. That dresser has some cracks in the corners and the finish is mostly worn off.
Some people like to refinish pieces of furniture like that. They might find that table, chair, or dresser at a thrift store or yard sale for cheap, take it home, and do some work to it. They might use some glue and some wood filler, throw a coat of paint over the whole thing, and call it good. It will look nice for a little while, but with continued use it won't be too long until the paint has some scratches in it, the glue loses its hold, and so forth. Refinishing something means that most of what gets worked on is only surface deep, to improve the look of the piece. Eventually you may find that old chair sitting by the curb, waiting for the next trash pick-up. It now has multiple layers of paint on it, some of which has built up in the corners and dried into hard lumps. The legs are wobbly again, and the loose rung has broken. No one wants to take it home now. Its issues are not going to be solved by another coat of paint.
What that chair needs now is not another DIYer - it needs a true craftsman. A craftsman who can not just refinish it again, but who can actually restore it. It needs someone who will strip off all the old, lumpy layers of paint and expose the wood beneath along with all the underlying issues so that they can be fixed up as well. Broken pieces can be repaired or replaced. Only after all the deeper issues have been addressed and the piece is solid and sturdy once again will the craftsman sand the wood smooth and apply several coats of stain and sealant. The piece has now been restored to its former glory and it is no longer destined for the landfill. It is no longer ugly and falling apart, but it is now beautiful and solid.
The old furniture - maybe it is your life, maybe it is your relationships. All the things you have been dealing with have created some cracks, or some wobbles, or just some general ugliness. Maybe you have tried the DIY route and attempted to cover up the underlying issues. (I really think we have all done that at one time or in one situation or another.) The problem is that because the deeper problems were never really addressed they will always rise back to the surface eventually - often when you are under stress (even if it is unrelated to the original issues). You don't need another "refinishing." This is not a DIY project. You need a restoration performed by the hands of a craftsman - the very craftsman who created you in the first place!
Your heavenly Father - He doesn't just perform a surface cover-up of the issues. He goes deep, to the root. Is it painful sometimes? Yes! It's not always easy to deal with our junk. PJ's sermon this morning - it wasn't focused on God's role in our lives as our physical healer, but more on how He provides spiritual and emotional healing for us. That's restoration, and that's an aspect of God as healer that we don't necessarily always think of - but it's very important. "Spiritual and emotional 'junk' hinders our lives and our relationships." I see that all the time in my own life and in the lives of others. Many times we have trouble moving on from our hurts and we pick up offenses... These are the things that start to form the cracks and wobbles in our lives, and we have trouble moving on and living how God has called us to live. In order to receive the healing that God wants for us in those areas "we have to allow ourselves to be broken before the Lord." "In order for God to bring healing, we need to be honest." (See Psalm 6 - David being honest with God.) God wants to help. He wants to heal. But it is also necessary for us to do our part as well. That's where the honesty and the brokenness come in. That's where we need to surrender to the will of God and lay down our own pride and selfishness. We also need to read our Bible and pray. "The word of God should breathe healing in our lives. We need to pray and ask God to make His word alive in us." (All quotes in this section credited to PJ.)
You guys - HE is so FAITHFUL! It is the very nature of God to be faithful. He cannot be unfaithful. Yes, we can walk away. Yes, we can choose to try to live apart from Him. Yes, we can attempt to make our own path and to be our own guide. We can take that old DIY route. But... that always ends in heartache for us, for our relationships. To live a life surrendered to God isn't easy either. Life isn't easy in general. But when we do live that way - trusting in a faithful God - living a surrendered life - following God's will - He will always take care of us. He will always have our hand as we step into the unknown... and that makes all the difference. When you see someone who has risen above and has overcome and yet says, "I had nothing to do with my own success, rather it was God working in me," that's the evidence of things unseen. That's faith in the God who heals us in every area of our lives - not only the physical, but the spiritual and emotional as well.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
- Hebrews 11: 1 (KJV)