These Rough Edges
May 20, 2018 05:44AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
“What exactly are those blue LED lights for on that Amazon order?”
“Oh that? We’re putting them on the truck to drive to prom.”
Um, what now?
Yes, my prom-opposed son was not only attending prom this year, but his date had convinced him to put blue LED lights up and down his Ford F-150 to match her dress. I burst out in laugh-shock. How fun is that? These are the types of surprises that make my day.
It never ceases to amaze me the fun someone else can bring out in us! If you had asked me 14 years ago when that same serious, learning-obsessed son was twirling a globe to memorize as much as he could about capitals, countries, and landforms if I saw bright blue lights on his prom ride in 2018, I would have choked on my Cheerios. I delight in unexpected joys like this one. This idea is creative, humorous, celebratory, and ironic.
The truck is old, battered, and bruised. Putting fun lights on it does not make it a limo. But it does make two eager prom goers feel more elegant for a few hours. It tells all the other drivers on the highway:
“Hey, this may look like a dumpy truck, but something classy is happening tonight.”
For a few hours anyway.
The truck is old, battered, and bruised.
Hmmm. I feel this way fairly often. How about you?
And the enemy of my soul reminds me every chance he gets: “You cannot accomplish anything. You are washed up. Not useful. Too broken to be of any use.”
But you know what?
God says I am none of those things. And He is in the awesome business of refining rough edges and using the good of what He has made to bless and to build.
Jeremiah 31:2-3, ESV
Thus says the LORD: "The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
Did you see that? He has loved us with an everlasting love—one that sent His Son to the cross and the grave for us before raising Him up to be with Him in heaven again.
The other part of God’s character referenced in this word to the Israelites is God’s faithfulness. He can be trusted to do what He says He will do.
Philippians 1:6, ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul encourages the Philippian believers that God began a good work in them. They are His good work, and so are we! He promises completion. Rough as we are in-process, we can look ahead to a finished work of God in our lives. He can be trusted with our hearts as He brings this about, one step of sanctification at a time. That’s the beauty of it! He does the good work! We are simply to yield. That is what making Him Lord of our lives means: that we submit and trust He has an end goal in mind with great beauty and glory to God.
In the meantime, what do we do? How do we trust this long-term plan?
Sometimes concerns I have with others in my life come out raw and not perfectly eloquent. I’m a word person and a huge communicator, but emotion gets in the way and corrupts my intentions.
I love imperfectly.
I try to encourage people, but at times it comes out all jumbly and communicates something else to them.
I try to grow as a person, but sometimes get my legs tangled in the thorns and I forget to look up.
I parent with some pieces in places but plenty of blind spots.
I try to give grace like Jesus, but impatience slips out.
How is it, then, that He uses my sandpaper borders to advance His kingdom on earth? What about me can be worked with?
That’s just it: by God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
Zechariah 4:6, ESV
Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts."
That is how we accomplish God’s tasks while reflecting Christ. Without God’s Spirit, which lives in us if we have believed on the name of Jesus, we cannot speak, reconcile, bring peace, or bless. Our own limitations fail us. But God doesn’t—as long as we yield to the potter’s hand.
Isaiah 64:8, ESV
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Again, we hear from the Apostle Paul, and this time he reminds us of grace. God’s grace is sufficient for us to do what He calls us to do and to ride the waves of life’s struggles by placing them on God’s altar and asking Him to lead.
2 Corinthians 9:8, ESV
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
This is possible through the Holy Spirit. For those of us who need a “plan,” we can be assured there is one: that we may abound in every good work.
So far, the verses make us promises and mention the plan, but I love this 2 Timothy scripture because it answers more of the “how” for me. I need the “how” reassurance. How about you?
How are we going to do this yielding to the process, this trusting in the good work?
2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Scripture equips us with righteousness, or in other words: the ability to reflect more of Christ.
So, God’s grace, the Holy Spirit. Scripture. And here is one more piece of equipment: prayer, and its side dish of thanksgiving.
Colossians 1:9-12, ESV
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Paul tells the Colossians that he prays regularly for them for a filling of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. He ties this directly to bearing fruit (good works) and to accessing the power of God for strength. It’s not lost on me that he ends the statement with “giving thanks to the Father,” as a thankful heart keeps us operating with and from the right perspective.
That voice in our head that condemns, the one that says we have nothing to offer? That we’re too messy. It’s too difficult. The one that whispers that we can’t get past our own brokenness. You know that one?
Instead of listening to its lies, consider that God in His eternal love and faithfulness has given you everything you need to do His work. It’s a self-discipline to take the next step and act on that belief.
Which rough edges will you trust to God’s work of completion this week?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.