Hi. My name is Amy Jo, and I love desks.
Last week the posts were a little thin - largely due to my decision to refinish my desk. The desk my parents gave me ... um ... quite a while ago ... because I'd been harassing them unrelentingly for my own desk ... a real one - not just one of these kids' jobbies over there at the right.
Then one day when I was 8 or so - out of the blue - my parents came home with a desk for me - a real desk. We plunked the estate-sale find down - and I was in business. It even had drawers! By the time I was 11 I convinced them that I needed to refinish this piece of furniture - a task and process I had zero clue about - but bizarrely (at least to me today) they dragged me off to the hardware store to get caustic chemicals and let me spend a week or so that summer playing with chemicals, power tools, sharp implements and such ...
And I fell in LOVE with the idea of restoration.
So - I should say, "Hello. My name is Amy Jo, and I love restoring old things and making them beautiful again.
Taking something that was - frankly - ugly. Not just ugly to an 11 year old girl ugly - but unanimously voted drag-it-to-the-dump ugly by everyone I knew. It seemed magical that you could put this "stuff" on the ugly chipped paint, watch it bubble up, then loosen its death grip on the wood underneath, peel and scrape that off, then repeat that process again and again over and over until finally the work uncovered what was underneath. Was it oak? Was it mahogany? Turns out it was cherry - and nothing particularly special - but I got to make it beautiful again - or at least to try. And - actually - thanks to lots of help from my family - it did become beautiful. And it stayed beautiful for a long time. Until after so many years of use (not to mention moves all over the country, and so many pets and innumerable sloshed cups of coffee - it just needed to be refinished again. It took me 5 days and about 20 hours or so to finish the job - and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. All these years later - and after so many other refinishing projects - redoing the desk a second time - was ridiculously easy compared to the first time when I really thought it would nehhhhvahhh get done.
I can't even count at this point in my life how many pieces of furniture I've refinished ... enough to know it's a nasty job. But I still feel that same immediate thrill when the first thick layers of paint loosen and the beauty of the wood underneath is finally revealed again - after who knows how long.
Jesus uses metaphors of farming, pottery, building and such to help us grasp how God longs to work in our lives and has always been at work in the lives of humanity. Restoring something that could've headed to the landfill or the burn-pile - and giving it new life - I believe is another apt metaphor for how God works. We were once hostile to God, given over to sin, slaves of unrighteousness ... the New Testament authors use these terms and more to describe our plight. And yet - not only did God save us - but He uses His word, the Church and His Spirit to peel back one layer after another - if we'll let Him - so He can reveal the core beneath - so we can see His handiwork even clearer and rejoice in His generous loving kindness towards us. Or as Romans 3 puts it - all this just demonstrates God's righteousness. Whether we're struggling to be Christlike in a tough relationship, or at work, or in a difficult family situation or whatever it may be - God is lovingly using these struggles to restore us. He has no intention of letting us - however dinged and scratched up and busted up we might get - slipping through His hands and off to some discard pile. He is the ultimate Recycler - the ultimate Restorer. I for one am pretty darn relieved by this.
God's restorative - or as we usually call it - transformative - work in our lives can be hecka scary too. I'm so happy sometimes to see Him working on someone else - but as soon as He comes near my ego with His surgical tools - however skilled I might in my head know Him to be - I'm with the prophet in Isaiah 6 when he says "I'm undone." We fear botched results - yet God cannot fail. He cannot botch. He's botchless. Let's get buttons made so we can remember just how far reaching His perfection really is. Messing up - simply isn't within the realm of His nature.
I don't know about you - but I find that the more I slow myself down - the more I put myself into a state of rest in Him, the more I listen to Him - the less I fear His work in my life - and the less I babble, and blather, and carry-on. The more I listen to Him - the more miraculous I find His healing work in the world. However banged up life might make us feel - God is ever at the ready to transform that experience into a big reveal of His incredible love for us. This process isn't always easy or painless - but His results are always a window on His love for us.
The more I listen to Him at work restoring you and me - the more likely I'll have something worth saying.