I’ve been painting a gate this weekend. As I did it, it occurred to me that if gates could cry, this one would have been bawling at the pain of change. It was happy being red and looking scruffy, getting on with life and serving it’s purpose well enough. But it’s owner decided that in order for it to survive another winter, change was required – a new coat of paint. The quickest and least painful way to do that would have been to slap a coat of paint on top of the existing one and call it an improvement. It would have looked better for a while. Until the winter when the problems under the surface would reveal themselves in the storms, as old paint continued to peel wrecking the new, allowing the rot to continue.
So the gate was sanded, in some areas to within an inch of it’s life, down to bare wood. Huge chunks of paint simply peeled off, exposing wood unseen for years. Other areas just needed smoothing down. This is the bit that would have had the gate bawling. It was painful, and at the end of the process, the gate looked worse. It was in a bit of a state. It still worked as a gate, but it was exposed and vulnerable.
The only way to prepare it for the future was to take it back to the roots of it’s problems and build it up again. That took 4 coats of paint and a lot of time. Two coats of primer to protect the bare wood, filling in cracks between layers of old paint that hadn’t been dealt with this time. After the first coat of gloss the colour was better but there was more work to be done. A second top coat, and the gate is finished. There are still cracks in the panels and some rotten wood that will need replacing one day. But this episode of change is finished and the gate is ready for coming storms.
Change can be very difficult. Sometimes we don’t want God to touch parts of our heart or life, sometimes we don’t want to look inside our own hearts, sometimes we are afraid of what might happen if we start to take the lids off the boxes that have been kept tightly shut for so long. Sometimes all of the above. Things can feel worse before they get better. The end result may well show the scars of the past and there may be more work to do another day, but, looking back, the process of change was worth it. Our Maker knows what is best for us, knows all our needs and will carry us through the pain.
Change hurts. Please pray for all those in prison who hear God’s call to change and are facing their giants.
‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.’ Isaiah 42:3
‘In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.’ Psalm 118:5