I was thinking on a song with the lines: “You are more than the choices that you’ve made. You are more than the sum of your past mistakes. You are more than the problems you create. You’ve been remade.” And, as I was playing these verses through my head, over and over again, my mind wondered to an image: one of stripping wallpaper in a new house (as one does, of course).
Ripping off the faded coloured paper in strips and ribbons and scraps; looking – searching – for the core: the bare wall, which would become a canvas. Flashing back now to images of my own life, I’m so very familiar with this ‘pruning’ process: God’s refining and remaking of something battered and broken into something beautiful.
As my mind flickers over the thought of stripping off memory-filled wallpaper, I wonder would it hurt to be the wall? A curious question. The wall has no life and therefore cannot feel. But if it could? Scratching away at another piece. Picking at the small bits – the ones that refuse to budge as if wanting, in their own right, to stay put. If I was the wall and someone was etching away at my faded scuffs and torn paper, would it be as painful as my heart tells me it would be?
Perhaps the wall isn’t aware yet of the vision of brightness and clean colour that one wishes it to be dressed in. It sees only someone scraping off something that its held onto for so many years. My heart pounds within my chest and my throat catches. I am the wall. I’m the one, holding onto years’ worth of familiar colours and patterns; onto marks of grief and brokenness and hidden scars under the once much-loved faded paper.
I am the wall. Not wanting to let go of self-preservation or take down the paper that keeps me secluded and ‘safe’. How easy it is to fear vulnerability; to fear that one’s own brokenness would separate and disqualify. To know, that, in a true world, it does. Fear and sin separate. But the image; the story; the truth doesn’t end there. Walls are broken down to build something new and the wall in mind was being stripped of its past to give it a future. God’s love fills the chasm and, by His grace – because of Jesus and all He did – we qualify.
This is what God does.
He takes the old things: the brokenness; the shame; the guilt; the mistakes; the sin. Hi takes it all. He died for all. He etches away at our brokenness and the hurt we hold on to; He scrapes away at the dirt and cleans each wound with deeply-loving tenderness. I wince at the thought of Him seeing my pain. I wince at the thought of seeing His. I look down at my hand and think of His nail-pierced hands, outstretched upon a cross to show the depths of His love, and now those same outstretched hands, reaching to me; scraping away at my brokenness. The same hands that moulded me, now gently wipe off the dirt and the dust that I’ve carried around for too long.
Peeling back the layers of preserving, protecting paper, He doesn’t leave me vulnerable or bare, with my greatest fears and hurt exposed. He stands close, protecting me; still at work. I see Him in my mind’s eye as He was here on earth – the carpenter’s son – sanding tables fit for royalty; now lovingly sanding down the wall I am, knowing the places that will need more work and more of His time. But He is patient and sees the finished work in all its splendour before it is done. He sees the pearl while I lie as sand. How awesome is our God! And, when the hard part is done; when I am empty and clean, He chooses a colour He knows will suit me; perhaps more than one, should He see it fitting. He brings out the colours that was always there – just hiding, buried – and clothes me in righteousness. He makes me into something new; something beautiful.
I’m amazed at this: of all the people, He chose me. Despite all my sin, He loves me. Even as I doubt and fail to see, He still died for me. And even though, I am but a wall in desperate need of being slowly transformed into something that shows His hand has been at work, He is still willing to remake me. That is love.