“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 corinthians 5:17 NIV).
Junk. That’s what my family and friends thought of most of my purchases. But to me, they were treasures waiting to be revealed.
When I was in my late teens, I had an unusual fetish for beat-up antique furniture. While most of my friends were at the mall shopping for clothes, I was at estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, and auctions hunting for antiques.
Often, when I brought my purchases home, my family would roll their eyes and say, “I can’t believe you paid money for that old piece of junk.” But I never saw my purchases as junk. They just needed a little work…okay, sometimes a lot of work. But I loved the shabby chic projects!
At one estate sale I spied a little drop leaf kitchen table with three spindle-back chairs. I could just imagine a sweet little older lady spending many years sitting at that very table drinking her morning coffee or perhaps her afternoon tea.
I could almost hear the faint whispers of thousands of conversations from generations past. The set was painted a hospital green, but I saw that it had great potential. Obviously the other bidders didn’t recognize a treasure when they saw one, because ten minutes and $35 later, the set was mine.
I brought the dinette set home, all excited about my great buy, and couldn’t understand why no one else shared my enthusiasm.
“Sharon, do you realize how much time and energy it is going to take to make that old green rickety table look even slightly presentable?” they asked. At that point in my life, I had a lot more time than money, so the time wasn’t a problem.
Refinishing furniture is a dirty, grueling task. First, I stripped off the paint with paint remover and discovered that not only had the table been green, it had also been blue, and before that white. But underneath it all was pure walnut.
The paint remover raised the grain of the wood, so I had to go back and sand it smooth. If the sanding isn’t done well, the finished product will always be a little rough. A few joints were loose from wear and tear, so I glued them back together. Then I applied a warm walnut stain which deepened its color and made the beautiful pattern of the wood grain stand out. Finally, I applied a polyurethane coat to seal and protect the piece.
As I worked I began to think of the old broken table as a symbol of my own life. I was also on the auction block, and God had purchased me with His Son’s precious blood. I had layers and layers of my old self that had to be stripped away to reveal the beauty hidden beneath.
This raised my grain, but God sanded me with life experiences and trials to remove the rough edges. He glued my loose joints and mended my broken pieces, for He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Then He put a sealer not only on me but in me – the Holy Spirit who brought out the beauty of who God created me to be.
After I finished refurbishing the old table and chairs, I sat in the garage thinking about all that God had done in my life. My mom opened the door, looked at the old table, and said, “I never thought something so ugly could turn out to be so beautiful.”
I said, “Amen.”
Here’s a picture of the acutal table proudly displayed in my attic!
Where are you in the refinishing process? It’s never really over, this side of heaven. But as we listen to God day by day, He will show us what needs to be stripped off, sanded away, and polished smooth to be all that He has created us to be.
Dear Lord, I was such a mess before You transformed me. Thank You for restoring my soul, renewing my spirit, and redeeming my life to become Your treasured possession…a true work of art. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What do You Think?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-21 to learn more about your refinishing process.
Think back over the past year. What has God used as His sandpaper to refine your rough edges?
What has God used to glue your broken pieces back together?
What has God used to polish your shine?
Leave a comment and tell me one thing that God has used to “refinish” you this year.
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I always enjoy your stories. It is true… there is hidden beauty in the most ‘ugly’ of things.
This is something which I am still learning about.
This year, like ever year, is an up hill battle. I try to be the person that the good lord wants me to be. I feel like this year God has stripped away a lot of my insecuries and has helped me to please him more then the human population. I have always wanted to be liked, so I would just sway wherever the wind blew. I was a yes person, right or wrong. I am now listening to God and letting the chips land where they may….or in your case the varnish.
Your writings have been such an inspiration to me in my walk with Jesus!! I thank God for you every time I read one of your writings. As for my own life, God has mainly used His Word to transform me and change my life!! I am gifted to be a Teacher and God has blessed me with talent to sing and to write. In the world, I was a copy editor. God placed me in a church home called The Word Center and the Word of God goes forth mightily in that place and has virtually transformed my life. About 3 years ago, God sent me to Phoenix, AZ to do some work with my Pastor(s) in establishing a church in the South Phoenix area. Phoenix is not only the desert but also desolate. God has used the move to Phoenix (from my home in Southern California) to teach me how to trust and depend on Him and no one else (’cause I did not have anyone to depend on here), and He has taught me how to hear from him and not lean to my own understanding of things. In all of this, God has taught me by His Spirit and has raised me to be a mighty Woman of God … anointed and operating in His Power and teaching His Word!!
God has shown me more how to “let go, and let God.” Let striving to be all God wants me to be go…to just rest in Him, worship Him, and let Him make me Holy, through His Word and prayer, and the opportunities He puts in my life. Sometimes He takes out of my life the things I love: a Sunday School class of children to love and be loved by, my grown daughter’s calls/visits, even my health. I don’t need any of those things to be happy. I just need the joy of the Lord, His presence daily. I’m learning to trust Him, and believe His way is the only good way, His plans are to work all things for good, and that He is totally FOR me. His will is the only thing that is important. I’m not there yet, but I’m growing in grace!
I’ve been taught on Dee Brestin’s blog, about Idol lies. Going to the things in life that give me relief from pain or brief pleasure, affirmation of man, or control (only imagined!). I’m giving the hurts and my own failures to God, and resting and leaning on Him more. It’s very peaceful in this place!! God bless, Sandy
In the past year The Lord has helped me to let go of past hurts and scars and to allow myself to forgive me. He’s sanding off each layer of scars one at a time. He’s also teaching me patience. There is still lots more to “refinish”. I can’t wait to see what the final product will be!
This year I have finally followed The Spirit and started a group at our congregation for ladies who attend alone. A very close friend who has just gone through a divorce and I are leading the group. The first group meeting was a great success and many tears were shed as everyone shared her story. Thank you Sharon for you inspirations as you daily share your heart with many!
Love your stories Sharon!!! My diagnosis of inoperable cancer last year and the resulting chemotherapy sessions, etc have launched me on the mission God has laid on my heart to show the world what it looks like when a Christian with strong faith faces death and dying!! Some sadness? Sure….but it should also be a time of joy and celebration!! I”M GOING HOME!!!! For me? That’s exciting!! I’ve been speaking, blogging, making podcasts, working my website….doing all I can to get out the message He’s laid on my heart!! He’s using this illness of mine to touch people all over the place in miraculous ways!! ROMANS 8:28 !! Blogs like yours are so encouraging and inspirational I can’t thank you enough for all you do!! His light shines brightly through you onto all of us! God Bless!! Dusty
I felt such a connection to this story. I refinished a walnut Queen Anne table several years ago. Like your family, mine could only see what is was, not what it could be. God bless you Sharon and your ministry. Hugs to you my sister in Christ.
Thank you so much for sharing this story. It brought back some wonderful memories of my mother, who too shared your love of antiques. I can remember her doing the same painstaking work of stripping, sanding and refinishing. She’s been gone 7 years now, and your devotional today has helped me to remember some sweet times with her. Bless you.
In the past year I have learned that I had to be strong enough to divorce the emotionally, and economically abusive man I married 11 years ago. It is a wild ride, and God is showing me many things I did not know, about how I have to be “refinished”, the sanding process is very painful, and I am hoping it will be over soon. I know that I will come out stronger in Him, and trusting Him more.
Dear Sharon: I have been reading your daily blog for about 3 years now. They are all good, but this one has to be one of your best. It is a great way to compare ourselves as to how God always sees us. Although the sanding time is not something we look forward to, it is necessary to bring out our true beauty. Not all women think they are beautiful, but once you are able to see yourself through the eyes of God, your attitude changes for all of times. You can then encourage others to work on how they think. We are more spiritual beings, always God’s precious creations, and in Him we have our being. Let us always be alert as to staying in that focus and thus celebrating our daily lives with praise and thanksgiving. .
I think He’s sanding me these days, through my anxiety and a bad dental phobia. He’s teaching me to trust in Him more and more, through these difficulties, to rely on Him sometimes moment by moment, as I struggle through the anxiety of too much month at the end of my money, as well as the process of working with a new dentist to address the many dental problems in my mouth, which have only gotten worse as I’ve avoided dealing with my phobia by not seeing a dentist for years. Trust, beyond the lip-service level, is hard to put into practice when I’m this anxious and fearful, for my own physiology kicks the stress and tension up a level, so then I’m also struggling with a racing heart and massive upsets to my digestion in addition to the emotional upset. Once He gets me through these life lessons, I should be nice and smooth, though!
This year has been faced with truths and facts about myself. God has used the break up of my marriage and the loss of my job to remind me to depend on Him; in the end only He can fix it. Thank you for this story it reminds me that we all have one. That we all started off rickety & hospital green.
The one thing God has used to refinish me this year is sandpaper coworker. I have learned to remain kind and gracious when everything within me was pushing me to scream, be unkind back at her, and quit the company. She was relentless for about 1 year.
I broke down and cried to my Abba, telling Him I couldn’t take her meanness towards me anymore. Because of God’s grace and mercy towards me, I knew deep down inside, that I needed to extend forgiveness, grace and mercy upon this coworker. God daily filled me with His strength to continue to stand strong, maintain a good attitude and to walk prayerfully and humbly. To this day, I’m still at this company and this coworker is behaving in a more professional manner with a kinder disposition in her interactions with me. Praise Him for using this trial to refine me and make me more like Jesus!
Hi Sharon, God has been refinishing me for quite some time now. But the one thing that really stands out is my relationship with my husband. For the first time in 15 plus years we are combining our money into one account. It’s like we are starting our relationship over BUT this time, God is in control. We have kept our money separated all this time because of trust issues from past mistakes But our Lord Jesus Christ has been chiseling away all the yuk and our marriage has been reborn!:)
God is still working on me…He uses my trials and the love and support of my family as he continues to sand and polish away. Praise God that he hasn’t ever given up on my, no matter how many layers need to be removed to finish what he started to make me what he has always had planned for my life.
This has been a rough year for me, but I know God is working in my life to renew my spirit and draw me closer to Him. Right now I’m walking in faith because I can’t hear His voice or feel His presence, but I know the finished product will bring Him glory.
Trust and decision making is very hard for me. I was scheduled to leave on vacation and one week before I sprained my ankle. What I found was God’s glory throughout this experience, (I’m still experiencing it as I just returned). God showed me the paths I could walk in Yosemite and I saw God’s glory abound from the mountain tops. Also my Sunday School class was well taken care of and I know now that I can probably retire from that position of the last 12 years without regret. God had to remove my independence to steer me towards total dependence upon Him.