Recently I refurbished a table; not any old table, but our dining room table. It needed a bit of a face-lift. It’s at least twenty-five years old and, until about eight years ago, had been our kitchen table. As such, predictably enough, it had received some knocks. When we moved to a smaller house, the dining room was too small for our old dining-table and we had to get rid of it. The kitchen table was just right, so it got promoted. We cleaned it up a bit but, with all the busyness of moving house, that was that. Until now.
It was hard work, but worth the effort. As I scraped away at the grimy surfaces, it was good to see the lovely grain of the wood emerging. Most of the damage was wiped away although some would have to stay, especially the corner of a leg where Emily had chewed it. (Emily was a puppy, I should explain.)
And as I worked, God was talking to me. I began to see how our Christian walk brings quite a lot of knocks with it, and we pick up grime that hides the beauty underneath. The time comes when we need a good clean-up. And, just as I took such pleasure in seeing the real table emerge from the dirt and the damage, so God absolutely loves cleaning us up and repairing the damage. We don’t need to feel bad about asking Him to do it, because He so enjoys it!
I asked Him about the bit Emily had chewed, and He told me something that I knew in my head, but which needed to touch my heart. He reminded me of a particularly painful time when I was deeply hurt by fellow-Christians. He reminded me that He wasn’t going to take away the memory, but that He had taken away the pain. In fact, the memory means that I can have a greater understanding and concern for others who may be hurt as I was. I need that memory. And He showed me that Emily’s tooth-marks were part of what gives the table its special character. “You see, Richard”, He said, “Without that time, you wouldn’t be the person I wanted you to be. I’m glad you carry those marks”.
But what really challenged me was this: I may have been hurt by other Christians, but how often have I said and done things that have hurt them? It’s so easy, isn’t it, to come out with harsh words when people do things we don’t like. Maybe I still carry some of those wounds so I’m reminded how easy it is to hurt others.
And I’m glad our lovely dining-room table still has Emily’s tooth-marks; it’s part of its character.
Prayer: Father, I praise You today because You’re the Restorer of my soul. Thank You that You take away the dirt and grime in my life and that You heal my wounds. Help me to use the things that have hurt me to make me more sensitive to the pain that others carry and to be careful not to hurt others. Amen.
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