"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5: 17
This past summer, Ryan and I were given a used dining table from a relative. It was beautiful, simple and had "good bones." But I thought it could use a little updating, like a new stain color on top and maybe a little paint on the bottom. I was happy to get this table home, a table that had been at the center of so many past family memories and had the potential to become a new gathering place where many more memories could be made.
As I began this long process of re-doing the table, I couldn't help but think about the process God takes us through as His children when He make us into "new things."
First, God begins this refining process by looking at us and recognizing all the potential He sees in us. His Word promises us, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." We are His beautiful workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works. He knows His plan for each of us and the individual process He needs to take us through so we will reflect His Son.
Upon seeing our potential and already knowing His plan for us, He begins this transformation by looking closely at us and seeing where our spiritual rough spots are. He begins to smooth them out using "sandpaper moments." A sweet friend and I coined this term during our only year of serving together in college ministry, when God used this refining year of our lives to smooth out our "rough edges." God handed out many lessons to me personally on surrender, service, humility, faith and perseverance, all things necessary to look more like Christ. I had to go through this "rough" time – pun intended – so He could do His holy work in me. And as hard as it was at times, I am so thankful for all God did that year in my spiritual life.
After sanding us down and smoothing us out, the process continues as God gently wipes our dust off and coats us completely and carefully with a new "stain," which changes our very appearance. This new stain is none other than Himself and His very presence. His Word and His presence saturate us in a new and fresh way and we are able to now experience Him in a deeper way than before. He desires to change us from the inside out. Then, our Master Creator waits. He watches patiently over our progress. Maybe there's some more rough spots to smooth out. Maybe another part of us needs more stain. He waits and watches over us as His work is being done. We must wait, too, and we are often not so patient and wonder why it has to take so long. There may be many long days that will have to go by as we wait for His holy work to be done in us, but because we are His, we must trust Him completely.
When enough time has gone by to complete this refining process, the "final" product is now a beautiful, shiny, "new" and usable masterpiece, like my dining table. People have taken notice of my table and have said, "Wow, how beautiful! Good work!"
But, unlike the table, which is now finished from beginning to end, we are aware that we are never "finished" until we enter Heaven's gates. Then, and only then, we shall enter God's presence, fulling seeing God in all His glory, who will say to us, "Yes! How beautiful you are! You are my wonderfully-crafted masterpiece! You are now perfect in Me!"
As we begin the year 2016, we don't know what's in store for any of us. But one thing's for certain: God loves each of us and has a plan for us! Our eternal future is secure if we know Jesus personally as our Lord and Savior. Today, and all through this new year, let's embrace God's continual refining process by allowing Him to smooth out our rough edges and saturate us with more of Him, changing us from the inside out. Let's not rush or ignore what He wants to do in us this year! By trusting His heart and allowing His good and faithful hands to do His holy work in us, we will more closely reflect Jesus more so this year than last year. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing!
Happy New Year!
Joanna Jespersen is the wife of Ryan Jespersen, Director of Urban Missions at Texas Baptists, and momma to two princesses, Rachel Beth (4) and Mary Kate (2). Being a pastor's wife in Dallas taught her a lot about the unique challenges and blessings of ministering in an urban setting. She has a heart for teaching and counseling, and enjoys crafting, thrifting and traveling with her family. She writes "love letters" to her little girls and really treasures the time she currently has being a stay-at-home-mom.