I’ve always loved working with my hands. I suppose it’s second nature because I grew up on a farm. I’d rake hay in the summers and haul loads of wood in the fall. In college, I worked in a frame shop/fine art gallery building picture frames. I loved it. It was instant gratification to measure and cut and build something that resulted in a custom finish. I think, too, that is why God so often speaks to me through the work of my hands.
Recently, I came across someone’s account who strips furniture. We’ve all seen those transformation pieces floating around on our social media feeds. In seconds, we watch as an ugly old thrifted item is transformed into something new and beautiful. I was so inspired by her furniture flips, I immediately set out looking for thrifted wooden pieces. From GoodWills to Facebook Marketplace, I was on the hunt! It didn’t take me long to snag an entire bedroom set. The style was as dated as the stain color itself, but it was all solid. Within the week I had studied up on tools and techniques and purchased all that I needed. I discovered immediately I had bitten off more than I could chew for a nap time project. (That’s what I call my window of productive time while the boys nap). This was going to be a labor of love.
On every tutorial video I watched, the first recommended step was an all-over washing. Once the pieces are dusted and rinsed off, it’s time to strip the stain. I coated the wood with a thick sticky product that needed hours to set in. This was going to take time… Next, I started scraping away the layers of gunk. I scraped. I wiped. I scrubbed. All to remove the thin top layer of finish that protected the stain and wood itself. Some of the stain came up, too. But not so much that I wouldn’t have to repeat this step a time or two. I then realized, I’d have to mix water and soap and maybe even some tougher solutions just to get the rest of the the gunky residue off. I borrowed a pressure washer and set to work. Keep in mind, I had to sit this thing out in the sun to dry after EVERY step. It had to be dry before moving on to the next.
Well, a week’s worth of naps later, I finally got to bust out the sander. Honestly, this was the moment I’d been waiting for. The moment I could see immediate results in the wood color. I sanded until my hands hurt. Under all of the stuff, I finally saw the beautiful white oak. The raw wood grain was more beautiful than any stain…
As I sat back and thought about HOW much time and HOW much work it had taken just to get to that raw woodgrain, I marveled. A lot of furniture flippers strip it all down just to paint over it again. I didn’t want to. THAT wood was perfect in its raw state. It was beautiful to me. Right then, I felt God saying, “It’s the same with My children. The value is in what’s underneath.” It was enough to bring tears. I reeled it back in my mind. All of the things we put on ourselves… isn’t that just like the stain of the world? Dressing up our life based on what the world asks or expects us to look like. I’m sure the original stain on my furniture piece was one of the most popular choices in it’s time! But, now, the color is dated. The wood beneath, however, is timeless. And that top clear coat? The one it was SO hard to scrub away? Isn’t that just like the protective coating we wrap around our hearts? Defenses we can’t see but we all have. Built from experience in a world that loves to wound.
Maybe you feel like life has left you used and purposeless. Like a Goodwill piece of furniture whose best days are in the past. But that’s not how God sees you.
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