Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Painting Is Easy...Prepping Walls Is Not

   "We like painting." Harold Morris and I came to this agreement last Sunday as we were preparing to turn an old office into something new. Painting offers nearly-instant gratification in a world where most things take much longer. Painting is also very cheap - this day we were using a free gallon of extra paint that the church has kept from a previous project - and so the return on investment is high.
   Painting a room is more of a short-story than a novel when compared to building a wall, repairing a foundation, or replacing a roof. But even short stories take some time to develop. 
   We knew we'd be done in no time once we got started painting, and we were right. I offered to climb the ladder and cut in the ceilings so that he could roll the walls quickly. We applied the paint thick the first time and, afterwards, touched up a few places that needed it. All in all, painting those walls was easy...but prepping a room to paint is not. 
   Preparing a room, or a window, or a surface to paint takes time. Most of our time was not spent with a brush or roller in our hands. Most of the time was spent preparing to paint. If you do it right, you never get started painting quickly. First, we found ladders, fans, brushes, buckets and gathered the supplies we would need. We removed wall covers for switches and plugs and then patched up some holes that marked where photos and frames once hung. Scraping the window, which had suffered decades of rust from encroaching moisture, took an afternoon. I was reminded again - painting is easy, but prepping takes time.
"Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people's way."
   This poetry of Isaiah 57 is constantly with me as I think through these truths. God's desires for us do not become reality without time spent preparing our hearts for his grace. There are obstacles and blemishes and damages that require our attention before the final stages of transformation can take place: otherwise the change is only on the surface and time will soon expose our shortcuts. The writer of Hebrews says we should lay aside every sin that clings to us so we can finish the project laid out for us. In the church we call that project redemption. 
   Well, the short story of our afternoon project has not come to an end yet. Even as I write, Buddy Dunn is down the hall applying a second coat of paint to that window. Equally, I know, that  the work God is putting into me and to you will continue on for a lifetime. 
   Grace and Peace to you.

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