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Renovation of the Soul

The Life Less Traveled

August 03, 2011
We have two dressers in our bedroom that looked like they were ready for the dumpster. They'd already been around the block a time or two when we inherited them 15 years ago and moved them into our first apartment. We were grateful to have them, but it didn't take long before they started showing their age.

After three moves, two kids and a cat who used them as his favorite scratching post, I thought we were going to have to trash them and start over.

The only problem was that we didn't have any money. We couldn't actually afford new furniture, and, even if we did manage to save up the cash, the stuff we could buy just wouldn't be as solid. These dressers were old, banged up, scratched and gouged, but at least they were made of real wood. They're no fun to move, but they're not going to fall apart any time soon.

They were just scarred and ugly.

Then, I saw the picture in the magazine. Someone had taken an old dresser and given it an extreme makeover. It looked incredible. I could just imagine how awesome this would look in our bedroom. It's true that I have no home improvement skills, but I figured it's not brain surgery. How hard could it be?

Hard. Really hard. Halfway into the project I was ready to light both dressers on fire and watch them burn to the ground.

It's not like I could just do one at a time. Oh no, that would be too easy. I had to dump 14 drawers of clothes into cardboard boxes, drag the dressers outside and tackle both of them together. Brilliant, right?

I wore my fingers to the bone sanding these babies down, grinding out every imperfection with a heap of elbow grease. The sanding took forever. I rented a power sander, but I had to work on all of the corners and curves the old-fashioned way.

Next came the primer and the painting and the second coat that it took to cover it, then, worst of all, the sealant to protect the finish. At last count, I'd added a bazillion coats of that stuff. Every time I came back to add another coat, I'd find some bug or lint trapped in the goo like that mosquito they used to make the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park."

Oh, yeah, then it got rained on. A couple of times.

By the end, the whole project had almost driven me insane. To this day, I start weeping uncontrollably when I see sandpaper or cans of paint.

But all of the effort, all of the frustration, all of the hours I'd poured into those dressers led up to a sweet moment of victory last Sunday when I hauled the finished products in from the garage. Just as I slid them in place, a shaft of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone on them through our window as I heard a distant choir sing the "Hallelujah Chorus."

It was breathtaking.

But seriously, they look cool. Painted black with their sleek new silver hardware, they have become a thing of beauty. Yeah, the process stunk, but the product? Totally worth it.

I had plenty of time to reflect out there sanding and painting and sweating, and I kept thinking about how much God has done the same kind of hard work in my own life.

There was a time in my life when it felt like I was ready for the dumpster. I had deep gouges in my soul from my own bad choices and the wounds I'd endured from others. My heart was scarred and ugly. But God, the Master Craftsman, got a hold of my life and began to do something new.

Just as I had glimpsed a picture of possibility in a magazine, God had a picture of the person I could someday become. He would not relegate me to the dumpster. No, He would settle for nothing less than a total renovation of my heart.

Slowly, painfully, He has sanded away so many of the scars and scratches I once wore. Old wounds have been forgiven, old habits have disappeared. He loves me enough to grind out every flaw of my character that keeps me from becoming the man He created me to be.

I wish I could say that this project is done, but, as far as the Master Craftsman has already brought me, I suspect this extreme makeover is just getting started. But there will be a day, when I am face-to-face with Him in heaven, and the clouds really will part, and I will be fully restored to my original design.

Believe it or not, selfish, prideful, stubborn, imperfect me will be crafted into a thing of beauty. And if that's true for me, it can be true for anyone. Anyone. No matter where you've been or what you've done, there is One who has the skill and the power to make you new.

The process? Hard. The product? So worth it. In the meantime, I take heart knowing that the Master Craftsman has far more patience with His projects than I do with mine.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more from Byerly, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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