I worked diligently on inserting her name in each promise and prayed for her as I worked. Now all I needed was something to put them in. Finally I decided on the idea of a box. I pretty much knew what I had in mind, but I also knew it would take some time to find the perfect one. It had to be just the right size to hold the promises, not too big nor too small. I wanted it to be ordinary, but kind of special, too. I knew it would have her name on it.
I made a trip to the local craft store and looked at a number of boxes that were almost right before I found my way over to the unfinished wood section. Truthfully, I had hoped to find one that was already just what I needed, that only required adding her name, but nothing was quite right. Then there, on the top shelf was a small box with a tiny gold latch that was just right. Well, I say just right. It was totally unfinished.
I walked around until I found embellishments that I could add to the box. Tiny little plaques that represented things she loved. They would fit nicely on the sides. The top would still hold, simply, her name. I came home with my treasures ready to begin the process.
After a call to a friend to find out what her favorite color is, I started the sanding process. Now anyone who knows me knows I don't like the "prep" work. I wanted to get right into the creative part of this. Still, I knew without the sanding, the box would be rough and not at all what I wanted.
I sanded, at times with a really course sand paper, and at times with a fine steel wool. It took a bit of work, but the wood started to feel smooth to the touch. Next I added the first coat of paint, inside and out, trying to get just the right look and shade. Time to sand again. I wanted the box to look old and so that it almost begged to be touched. After each "sanding" I would take a soft cloth and wipe the wood, clearing away the dust. I added a coat of sealer and went to bed.
In the morning, I picked up the box to discover the sealer had actually made the wood rough in spots. Okay, so it hadn't made it rough - it had revealed what I couldn't feel before. Again I got out my steel wool to make the surface touchable again. I added her name to the top and waited for that to dry so that it could also be sanded slightly. Of course, I didn't wait long enough and when I sanded it smeared a bit, requiring touch-ups. Now I sit here waiting for all this to completely dry so that I can add a final seal and the embellishments that will make her smile.
That's when it hit me. I am really doing a lot to make the box special, when the real treasure is inside. I am sanding and painting and smoothing and painting and adding - all so that this box will make her want to reach out and pick it up so that she can find what is inside.
Isn't that a lot like what God does with us for a hurting world around us? He has the promises to deposit in us, but first there is a lot of sanding that has to take place. I have laughed that in my teaching career I find God gives me either the students who need me or the ones that I need; unfortunately what I seem to need most is someone to sand away my rough spots.
As I sanded that little box, I thought about that process. It was tougher in some places than others - especially those tucked away in a corner and hard to reach. But after each sanding, I rubbed the wood with the softest cloth I could find and then felt the wood to make sure it was smooth. I know I've been through times when I have felt God "sand" me, but immediately after I have felt His touch, His precious touch.
We may have gifts added to our box that make us special to someone, but mostly what makes us special is that our wood is worn and soft to the touch. The edges have been rounded by time, the surface looks worse for wear but at the same time you know that the box will be smooth, ready to be opened to find what treasure lies inside.
I'm taking a lot of time on this box, so that those who see it will want to open it and look inside. Truthfully, it's just a ordinary wooden box, nothing all that special except for the time and love that I've tried to put into it.
Doesn't that sound like us? The truth is, God allows us to go through things so that others will be drawn to us to find the treasure inside, for that is what is truly important. That is what truly brings comfort to our wounded souls. God is making us into a box to hold His promises to a hurting world...I want to be one that is soft and worn and that begs to be opened. How about you?
Happy sanding, my friends.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
The Message (MSG)
7-12 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!