We recently made the decision to re-decorate our dining room. It looked acceptable but just needed a few improvements.
To be honest, I would’ve been happy to simply paint over what was there. Get it out the way quickly so that we can return to normal as soon as possible. Others, however, were more diligent and felt we needed to do a thorough job. The others prevailed.
So it was decided that the wallpaper needed to be stripped away. But when we did that, we discovered a few problems: cracks, holes, dents. It wasn’t pretty. We hadn’t realised that the state of the walls was so bad.
What a mess! We began to wish we hadn’t started this whole process. It looked worse, not better. Whose idea was this anyway?
The temptation was to paint over the problems and hope that nobody noticed. Do these imperfections really matter? However, one of the people helping us was insistent that we do things the hard way. He wanted to deal with all the cracks, holes and dents by re-plastering the wall and then sanding it all down afterwards. He even went looking for more problems by tapping the walls to find where the plaster had come away from the brickwork.
This wasn’t going to be the quick job that we’d hoped. It was more effort. More time consuming. More frustrating. I wanted my dining room back! Was this really worth it?
Over the course of a few days, the dining room began to look inviting again. The cracks and holes got filled. The surface sanded down and cleaned. Then finally, a fresh coat of paint on all the walls. Beautiful.
With a determination not to compromise, some hard work and more than a little help from our friends, we now have a wonderful new dining room. Attractive. Colourful. Better than it was before.
That’s a bit like what we’re going through as a church at the moment. We’re looking beneath the surface. Discovering a few problems – wrong practices in our culture that have caused damage and hurt. It’s a painful time for everyone and perhaps some of us wish we’d never embarked on the process.
But let’s be patient. It takes time to change. As the Holy Spirit reveals our faults, we’re working with him to put things right – apologising, repenting, getting reconciled. There are no shortcuts.
God is dealing with us. His plans are still to prosper. He has not forgotten us. The church will once again be new, attractive and colourful. A second confidence. Better than it was before.
“The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord Almighty”