“You go for it,” my friend said somewhat skeptically as we both looked on at the worn-out, falling-apart furniture I wanted to re-cover. “Just let me know if you need help moving the stuff,” he added heading out the door and leaving me to daydream about the potential of the pieces – the fabrics, the colors, the placement of the refinished pieces in my house. I was thrilled.
You see refinishing furniture has become one of my favorite hobbies. It all started with a friend’s dresser. She was getting rid of old furniture she’d had since childhood. Confident I could transform the piece, I had some friends help me load it on my truck.
Later, when those same friends helped me move the refinished piece into a new home they didn’t recognize it. When I explained it was the same dresser, they protested. “No way! It looks totally different!” Mission accomplished. I’d brought the dresser from gunk to glory. I quickly set about my next project.
One day when I was praying about some hurts and struggles in my life I found myself saying, “Lord, use this gunk - these hurts, these difficulties. Take it! Transform me.” In that moment it hit me. God does in our lives, what I had done in the “life” of that dresser. He turns it from “gunk” to glory.
Now, I’m not insinuating that any humans could ever be “gunk” or junk. We are all priceless sons and daughters of God. But sometimes because of bad decisions or unpleasant circumstances we accumulate “gunk” . . . a bit like old furniture. A friend wrongs us and it chips away some of the paint of self worth. We lose a loved one and feel unstable, as if we’ve lost a supporting leg. We sin against God and a film of dusty shame covers us. At some time in life we all experience “gunk” and feel less than whole.
But God is here with His grace to transform us into the glorious person He created us to be. Just as I have plans for my furniture pieces, God has a plan for our lives. Just like I get thrilled thinking about all the possibilities of fabrics and colors and room placements for my new project, God is thrilled about the plan for your life. Just as I pour my efforts into re-doing furniture (scrubbing, stripping, painting, and finishing each piece with care) God pours His effort into transforming our lives.
God’s “effort” is grace. God unleashes His grace- His power and help - into our lives to transform us from gunk to glory.
This story of transformation is not new. In the Bible we hear story after story of how God’s power transforms peoples’ lives. It transformed David from sinner to saint, Paul from persecutor to preacher, and Mary Magdalene from adulterer to adorer of Christ.
As confident as I was in my ability to refinish that old dresser, I am infinitely more confident in God’s ability to transform and “refinish” our lives.
So today let us all open our hearts and minds to God. Let us receive His grace - through prayer, through the sacraments, through genuine fellowship. Let us offer Him our “gunk”, and let Him transform us with His grace into glory!
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18