Lessons In Painting
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time painting. I’m not talking about the kind of painting while you are sitting down at an easel in a lush meadow, enjoying the beauty of your surroundings. I’m talking the kind of painting with drop clothes, brushes, rollers, and ladders. That’s right, house painting. In one of the rooms which I was painting, the walls had been painted red. I knew that the red color was going to be difficult to cover up so I purchased primer to use as a base coat before paint the new color. I knew it would be an extra step in the process, but I felt in order have a better end result it was necessary to do the extra work. I’m glad I did. The new color makes the room look brighter and you really can’t tell the room had ever been red. It seems in today’s society people are often time looking for the easy way. We’re bombarded with phrases like “get rich quick” and “rapid weight loss.” It seems we are encouraged to take the easy way and avoid working hard for something. What about working on our faith? Are we willing to work hard for our spirituality or do we just want to find an easy way? Are we willing to put forth a little more effort? Are we willing to sing in the choir? Play in a Praise Band? Teach a class? Serve as a Greeter or Usher? Sure, it’s easier to come to worship and just sit in the pew. And it’s easier to walk in a classroom, sit down and let someone else teach. When I look at those non-red walls, I feel good about what I have accomplished. Don’t you feel a sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed a project that you’ve worked hard on? We can feel that same sense of accomplishment when we actually “work” on our spirituality. In 1898, the hymn writer Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote the hymn “Higher Ground.” The first line of the hymn says “I’m pressing on the upward way…” Besides meaning to iron something, pressing means to exert force or energy. As brothers and sister in Christ, if we all “press on” just imagine how much we could accomplish for Christ and the church!
Seeing the Potential
I have always admired someone who is skilled in working with wood. It’s amazing to me how someone can take a rough piece of wood and work with it to make something smooth and beautiful. Many woodworkers talk about being able to see what they want to make in the rough, raw wood. They study the wood and it "tells" them what to make. The woodworker visualizes the piece before they even begin to cut and carve on the wood. Being able to imagine and visualize something out of nothing is indeed a gift. I guess it’s all about being able to see the "potential" in something. Like the teacher who continues to tutor the student who is having trouble with algebra. Or, the coach who continues to encourage the athlete who may not be the fastest or strongest. We might not always be able to see the potential in ourselves or in each other, but God can. God can see beyond our rough exterior and imperfections. God can take a persecutor of early Christians and make him a strong leader of the Church. God can take a visually impaired woman and guide her to become one of the most famous hymn writers of all time. God can even take an elementary music teacher and mold him into a church music director. No matter what the world may say, God sees the potential in each of us. As we journey forward in life, may we be strong enough to say "mold me and make me, after thy will..."
A Scout and His Canoe
A boy scout went on a canoeing trip. He started early in the morning and by almost noon he was ready to take a break. He paddled the canoe into shore. Carefully he stepped out of the canoe unto the shore and tied the mooring rope to a sturdy log. Since he wasn’t planning on resting for very long, the scout barely brought the end of the canoe onto the shore. The scout stretched out on a patch of grass and soon drifted off to sleep. As the scout slept, the wind began blowing increasingly stronger. When the scout awoke from his nap, he discovered that his canoe had slipped off the shore and back into the river. The scout didn’t worry or get anxious. He simply retrieved the canoe by using the mooring line he had tied to the log on the shore. Because the scout thought ahead and made sure his canoe was secure, the scout wasn’t trapped because he lost his canoe. In our own lives, just when we think all is calm and peaceful, the winds can begin to blow and try to blow us off course. Perhaps an unexpected illness has been diagnosed, or we become a victim of unemployment. Our faith in God and Christ can serve as a mooring line for us. Our faith can keep us from being blown off course and set adrift on the rough waters of life. How’s your mooring line? Is it tied securely? Is it frayed in spots? Don’t wait for the strong winds to blow. Take a lesson from the boy scouts and "be prepared."