Tuesday, December 8
When I was in college, I refinished my first piece of furniture. I bought a table at a garage sale—a water-stained, scratched, scuffed table. I brought it home, set it up in the garage, and got to work.
I applied a stripping chemical over the whole thing, then scraped off ribbons of varnish. Some bits of varnish were stubborn and demanded that I really lend the weight of my body to remove them. Once the whole thing had been stripped, I wiped the table down, let it dry, and sanded it smooth. Then I stained it golden and coated every surface with polyurethane to protect it. Here I had to brush carefully so the final coat of gloss would follow the grain of the wood. A few days later, after leaving it to dry, I polished it with linseed oil and powdered pumice. By the end, the table practically glowed.
That’s what I picture when I think of renewal: a complicated process that takes a whole lot of elbow grease and more than a little patience. That kind of renewal is a labor of love.
So it is for God. “He will renew you in his love,” says the prophet Zephaniah. God seeks us out—water-stained, scratched, and scuffed as we are—and imagines what glowing beings we could be. He loves us.
He loves us enough to take the time to peel off our layers of chipping paint, buff out our nicks, seal in our beauty, and polish us till we shine. And yet his arms don’t grow tired, and he doesn’t get antsy waiting for our final glory. The “labor” is hardly laborious for God. To him, it’s simply love.
All that it takes to renew us is God’s love. Yesterday, it was the mere presence of God that had the power to bring us ease and joy. Today, it’s his love that has the power to renew us.
His love is potent. It will make us new.
Prayer: God of love, I am like an old and worn-out piece of furniture, a piece beyond repair or rescue. If it were left up to me, I wouldn’t have the strength to restore me. But for you, all it takes is your love. Work at me with your love. Make me new.