Over a year ago I decided that I was going to repaint some of the walls in our home. We have a lot of wall traffic with 3 boys and some of the paint needed to be freshened up. Painting always sounds like such a fun job until the work actually starts. As any painter knows, the prep work is more important than the painting itself. Without the work up front, the paint will not stay where it needs to stay. This is frustrating for someone like me who wants to just paint the walls and be done with it.
Finally after a year of thinking about it, and finishing my graduate work, I bought some paint. One afternoon I decided I would paint one of the walls. I got the can of paint out and a brush and started at it. It even seemed to be looking alright, but the wall was not prepped right and the paint looked blotchy. I thought that maybe it just needed an extra coat, so I painted it again. This time some of the paint ran, but the wall still looked blotchy. I was deflated and vowed that I would never paint again. Actually, it drove me crazy that I was having such a hard time with it.
A few weeks past and I decided I would take the time to prime the wall first. I bought some primer and repainted all that I had already done, first with primer and then with paint. Shockingly enough, it covered and looked nice. In fact, I was very surprised with how well it looked after I primed it.
I know it seems funny, but as I painted and thought about this, I realized that this is a pretty good metaphor for what God does in lives. There is so much foolish disbelief out there, even with all the evidence, that it is obviously God’s work when someone notices Him for the first time. God pursues His people! That means he takes the time to prepare the heart so that the message of the Gospel actually sticks. He is patient and detailed with how He deals with us. This is something God really has to do. Think about it. How relevant is it to sit in church on Sunday morning when the beach is calling? Unless you understand that Jesus Christ died for your sin in order for you to be with Him forever, that seems like a silly thing to do. These areas of devotion become meaningless to people who do them out of routine rather than out of pure love for Jesus.
Jesus talked about this, but it wasn’t with paint. He told the story about the gardener who sows seed that lands on different soil. Some of the seed falls on the path and the birds eat it. Some of the seed falls on rocks and doesn’t have any depth to the roots that grow. Some of the seed falls among the thorns leaving the thorns to choke off the plant. Then there was the good soil where there was a large crop.
The work of heart preparation doesn’t appear to be an easy task, but God does it masterfully. In fact, I easily get discouraged by students who decide to follow their friends instead of Jesus. However, God doesn’t just give up. He continues to pursue and I continue to pray for more of it.
In the middle of August I am looking to put together a week, or so, of guest posts. I am not looking for just any guests, though. I am looking for people who are willing to write up a testimony of something that God has done for them personally. It might be a story about something He taught you. It might be a story about healing or deliverance from addiction. It might be some sort of assurance you received from Him in the midst of a crisis. I don’t know what those things are for you. I do know that we all have stories like this, if we take the time to remember them. These are stories of God preparing the heart and working in the heart. My goal would be for people to stop and recognize again how God is at work for His glory and our good.
If you are interested in this, please use one of the methods in the “about” page to contact me. I will give you the particulars of this in that way.
In either case, this would be a great time to consider what the soil of your heart is like and what needs to change to get it where it needs to be. This is not something we can’t “self-help” our way to. It is something that God can go in you, if you ask. The other part of this is our role in ministry to other people. It would be easy to give up on someone when they don’t seem to get it, or even desire to get it. However, if we all just do our part, God will do His part. It is His Word, let’s let Him shape hearts with it.
“But the one who received the seed that fell on the good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13:23