When all is stripped away…

In the last few months, my wife and I have quit our jobs and sold nearly everything we have to come to America.

We knew selling everything would be difficult, and saying goodbye to friends and family would be hard too. However, what we, or should I say “I”, didn’t realize would be so difficult was the process of having everything stripped back from me, reveling what was hiding beneath…

Just a week or so before we took the 14 hour flight to America from Australia, my friend Ed and I sanded and polished the floors at our house, readying it to be rented out.

I’d never sanded floors, before, but Ed had done it for a living many years ago. He showed me the ropes, and then let me sand away. It was a fascinating experience.

At first the floorboards all look very much the same. The surface looks a little messy, but all in all, you can’t really tell one section from another.

Then after some sanding, you start to reveal the history of the floorboards. How the floorboards have been treated, how they have reacted, and what they have been exposed to. There was a section of the floor that was much darker than the other sections- “Someone probably spilled a drink there, and didn’t bother to dry it up,” he said. Then we saw another section, much lighter, evidence of something having covered up that section. Ed told me that the floors tend to take on the odours of whatever has been spilled on them in the past. He told me that sometimes he’d be sanding and he could smell coffee, other times red wine, and if the person owned pets… well lets just say he didn’t stop to smell those aromas!

As I took over the sanding machine, moving back and forth, I started thinking about how similar sanding is to life, we have to be stripped back, before we can be renewed. I also thought about how fulfilling sanding is, once you have exposed what is underneath, then sanded back most of the imperfections, you finally get to polish the floors and admire the beauty. Little did I know I was about to undergo some sanding myself!

Hitting the States with no real job, and no physical classes starting for me in my study until July, I found myself getting agitated. I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done. Sure, we have a prayer meeting on Wednesdays to go to, and church on Sundays, but I felt like I wasn’t really doing anything. More than that, I felt like I had to do more, to earn the prayers and even finance that so many people had contributed to get us here. If I am completely honest, I also felt I had to earn the amazing provision God had given us too. Don’t get me wrong, I was loving what I get to do, but I wanted to do more.

I often find myself being addicted to doing.

My default is to be busy, and to achieve. For so long I had been working hour after hour, and constantly doing things, that now just being was not enough! I’m so used to having so much to do, that I didn’t know what to do with myself and my free time now that I didn’t have much to do. I was anxious and down. That was until I talked with my friend Jamie.

Jamie caught up with me when we first arrived here. I was tired, frustrated, and very unguarded. I just told him how I was feeling. “I’m ready to just do something, I want to sink my teeth into a project, some ministry, I have a few things to do, but I want to do more.”

Like a man standing back and looking at a floor that had just been sanded, he was able to see some imperfections and he offered me some helpful advice…

I can’t really do our conversation justice in just a few lines, but in short after hours of talking, Jamie told me that I didn’t need to do anything to earn God’s favour or people’s favour, in fact the most important thing for me right now may actually be to just “be”, not to do. I had told him how I felt I needed to do things, significant things, as a sort of “thank you” for the support people were giving me both here and from Australia. I had told him I felt like I needed to impress people, with powerful testimonies, and world changing emails back home. He told me that people support me because they believe in me, not because of what I do.

I was profoundly humbled by that statement and a paradigm shift occurred for me.

I realised, once sanded back, that I have been so busy trying to achieve something, trying to do something, that I wasn’t able to recognize that I could just “be”. I could just be who God has created me to be, in the season He has put me in right now. I needed a new default… from doing, to being.

That night my wife and I talked for hours and I found myself needing to repent before God for two main reasons.

1. I was so busy wanting to gain something else, to do something spectacular, that I’d been so blind to what God had in front of me (my wife, my son, an opportunity to study at a phenomenal Seminary, and to Pastor at an amazing church- what more could I want right now!)

2. I realized I had also been striving to earn His favour, when His favour (thanks to Christ) is already on me!

There is a saying I have heard many times before, “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.”

Jamie encouraged me that I needed a new default, and suggested I write down what I wanted my default to be. I had become “set in my ways” and I needed new ways to be set in me.

So… I have come up with a new default, a sort of personal creed. It is like the polish I have chosen to put on my floorboards. The sanding has been done, the imperfections are there for all to see, but Christ is renewing me! Although the imperfections are still there, the covering of Christ is turning some old boards into something beautiful (mind you, I’m still a work in progress…)

So here it is- my new default.

Today is a gift.

Today is not for what I DO, it is for who I choose to BE.

Today is not for who I am, it si for who I AM is in me.

Today is not for what I can achieve, it is for what God can BE in me.

Today is not for giving of my flesh that people can see, it is for giving out of the overflow of what I have received.

Today I choose to let go of myself as father, and allow God THE FATHER to be Father through me.

Today I choose to let go of the ways I want to lead my wife, and I invite the Holy Spirit to lead us both.

Today I choose to embrace the grace of Christ, I will not strive to take it from Him by achieving, I will rest and receive it, it has already been achieved.

I will study, I will Pastor, I will parent, I will love, and I will succeed… not because of who I am, but because of who Christ is in me.

I hope this blog has helped you, it’s just a window into what God is doing in my life at the moment.

Be encouraged by this verse- Galatians 2:20: My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Floor sanding
Sanding floors with my friend Ed.

 

It reflects the light a lot better once it's been covered in new polish!
It reflects the light a lot better once it’s been covered in new polish!

Andrew

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