So, this house renovating is killing me for a reason. I am not skilled, I am not knowledgeable, I have only little increments of time and decreasing stamina. Yet, I continue to do it myself and do it poorly. Now, don’t worry, this is not a pity party…there are chuckles in my words as I say them. If you could see the walls I worked on this morning, I hope you would laugh too. We were supposed to mud and sand three times to get it smooth and exact. We did two rounds of mud, one relatively good sanding and a second lame attempt at sanding and then I started to paint. This particular wall has a textured look like you may find in a third world stucco exterior. So, we’ll just call it our “nod to other cultures” wall. I’m not sure how to re-package the dried drips or paint lines on other walls or the holes I still haven’t spackled but have painted over anyway…moon crater-esque?
When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Acts. 3:12-16
There are some things that are just easier to identify as “clearly the work of the Spirit”, though we as believers claim all good gifts are from Him. But, I for one still think I’ve got what it takes to get the job done independently. My stubborn yet sloppy job on the walls of our new home is simply a visual aid for what my do-it-yourself righteousness is really like. While an initial glance may only give the impression of the chosen color livening up the room, any further observation reveals the extensive (and in places obscene) mperfections. Not only is the job not completed in a remotely satisfactory way, but all of my muscles ache, my hands have blisters and my joints feel swollen. I am exerting all the energy I have to do a job poorly which professionals could come in and do well and more quickly.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— Gal. 3:1-5
I want to be more loving or more patient or more generous or more…and so I decide to do it myself and wonder 1)why it isn’t working, 2) why it is so exhausting and taxing and 3) what I need to do to get it right the next time. It was God who began the good work in me, it is God who wills and acts in me according to His good purpose and it is the fruit of the Spirit that I need in greater abundance. How exactly is it that I think I can produce in myself what is only His to cultivate and grow?
I was reading the parable of the prodigal son to Chad today and it occurred to me how deeply I still don’t “get” the Father. I continue to believe I am on a merit system with Him, earning blessings or clearly deserving the consequences of my laziness, selfishness and so on. But the father doesn’t give this son a lecture, doesn’t make it a teachable moment to shame him and bring the spotlight on who was right and who was wrong and He doesn’t tell his son to live with the consequences of the hole the son knowingly dug. He clothes His lazy, greedy and selfish child with His robe, orders up a feast and celebrates His son’s safety and returned presence.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Gen. 3:21
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Is. 61:10 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Gal. 3:27
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Cor. 4:7
My righteousness in Christ is completely earned/paid for/merited by Jesus alone. It is like a debit account kept full by Him and at my disposal. Then, rather than my cheap attempts at doing it myself, He sends His Spirit to plant, tend, grow and flourish His fruit in me. His renovation of me is professionally accomplished and will not have to be re-done. It cannot spoil, perish or fade. It doesn’t require marketing or spin to make it appear right. He doesn’t ask me to blister my hands to attempt what His hands have already been pierced to accomplish.
I’m ok with the horribly unprofessional job I have done on the wall if only because it may serve as a physical reminder of a significant truth. Being made holy, being conformed to His image, being transformed from fallen and broken to “perfect, complete, lacking nothing” is a job only possible for the person and work of Jesus. May this truth not only give me rest and peace in the process, but also increase my patience with others who are also in His process.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zech. 4:6