1 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
This summer my husband and I embarked on a new adventure as we purchased a duplex and renovated it as our first real estate investment. It was both a lot of fun and a lot of work. We were either crazy, brave, or both as we did much of the work ourselves even though we had little to no experience in the home improvement arena. We quickly learned we are overly optimistic with how much projects will cost and how long they will take.
Refinishing our kitchen cabinets was one of these projects. The cabinets were Oak and were in good shape so we didn’t want to spend the money on buying new cabinets. It seemed like refinishing wouldn’t take very long, that it might be similar to painting, but unfortunately, our optimism struck again. If we would have just painted the cabinets it would have been much faster, but do you know what it takes to refinish wood? Let me outline it for you. Stick with me on this, it’s not just a post about remodeling, I promise.
- Take the cabinets apart. Remove all doors, drawers, and hardware.
- Strip all finish and stain from the wood. This can involve the use of stripping gel and/or a sander. If you have any grooves in the wood you need to sand this all down so you don’t have any stain or finish left on the wood. This process is painfully slow.
- Dust with a tack cloth and apply pre-stain wood conditioner, let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Apply the first coat of stain. Some spots will absorb this new stain very well, while other spots will be stubborn and you will have to apply multiple coats to make sure it is even. And, you need to make sure the stain is even across the various pieces as you need the different drawers, doors, and bases to all match. You might need to let the stain dry overnight in-between coats, and you definitely need to let it dry overnight before moving on to the next step, which is…
- Dust with a tack cloth and apply the first coat of finish. Make sure it is evenly applied. Let dry overnight.
- Lightly sand the top coat of finish. Keyword = LIGHTLY. If you sand too much you risk removing some of the stains you worked so hard to apply evenly and thus requiring a circle back to repeat steps 2 onward for that small section (speaking from some frustrating experiences).
- Apply a second coat of finish. This one is thicker and needs to be even with no air bubbles. Let dry overnight.
- If you don’t need to do any additional touch-ups, put the cabinets back together. Reinstall doors, drawers, and hardware.
Prior to understanding how many nights are needed to dry various coats, we optimistically thought this process could be completed in a day, okay, maybe a long weekend, and it ended up taking us a couple of weeks! *Facepalm.
However, after going through this arduous process, I realized some of the parallels of God making us a new creation in Christ. The old has to be stripped away. Our old “finish” and “stain” is removed, and He prepares us and gives us a brand new “finish” and “stain.”
We are still ourselves – our unique giftings and personalities. Our Oak cabinets remained Oak. When I became a follower of Jesus, I was Abby before and after my conversion, but once I was “stained” with His blood and “finished” through the work of His resurrection I was markedly different. Jesus does the work to save us and to sanctify us so we can enjoy Him fully and completely, and also to reflect Him to the world who needs Him so desperately.
Sometimes we get stuck in one stage of this process, and sometimes this process seems more cyclical than linear. Prior to starting the process, we may be hung up whether we truly trust Christ completely and if we can surrender everything to Him. Once we’ve been saved then sometimes it feels like the stripping away phase takes forever as we slowly conform our lives to His will. It seems like it would be much faster if we just “painted” over the old us, but then there is no true and lasting change.
And this stripping away, this sanding down phase seems to come again and again. It comes in different seasons and in various ways. It comes in hardships and in triumphs. We are both new creations and continually being made new, and we are constantly reminded of our need for His grace. Regardless of which phase we are in, we are in good hands, with the One who has all the experience, wisdom and grace to guide us and “refinish” us.
As we increasingly live out being a new creation in Him people will notice. Not in a “Wow, you are so holy!” way, but in a “There’s something different about you and I’m curious.” way. The verses right after 5:17 are all about being ambassadors for Christ, and we’ll end with them here:
1 Corinthians 5:18-21
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Thank You, Jesus, for being You! Thank you for making me a new creation. Even though it is often painful, thank You for stripping away the old me- the person I was before you and the person I would be without You. Thank You for “refinishing” me to look increasingly more like You. Please give me Your wisdom, perspective, and grace for today. Please reveal more of who You are to me and help me to treasure you deeply. Please help me to be a faithful ambassador for You and to love others well. I love You, thank You for loving me! Amen.