It was July 4th, and due to COVID 19, our smalltown historical society museum had been closed for quite a while. But we decided to reopen on the 4th to…well, not such a big crowd. Though, that’s unfortunately the norm for the museum.
But inside, those of us who were there as volunteer greeters and tour guides, had the opportunity to meet Dan DeZarn, a SUNY Geneseo instructor who is working on refurbishing a decades-old statue we have in our museum.
The statue, of renown physical culturistist (an old-fashioned term for health and fitness guru) and publisher Bernarr Macfadden, is taking longer than he anticipated. Due to the layers of paint and patches of plaster that must have been added over time to preserve the statue (or Bernarr may have changed his mind at some point and wanted his statue painted in gold enamel), Dan has had to not only sand down the layers, but on July 4, we watched the master take the time and dedication of using a small scalpel-like exacto knife to chip at the small, dotted enamel paint. Certainly a timely, daunting and tedious task.
Later that night I was thinking, as I was preparing for my 5th of July sermon, how God––the master craftsman––takes his time peeling off the layers of gunk that has stuck to us. In my sermon, I mention that we often wish that when we come to Christ, or at the point of Baptism, it would be nice to be absolutely perfectly holy in an instant. Think about what kind of witness that would be to a dying world––to be transformed into perfect righteousness in an instant.
But God is not that way. As the master artist, God takes his time with us, carefully chipping away the enamel and layers of stuff that time has stuck to us––perhaps the unhealthy layers of things that we thought would restore us. Underneath it all, the restorer understands that what we thought would be a good idea to use to restore us was in fact harmful. And a master restorer knows what He wants to accomplish, and what we are supposed to look like underneath it all (even if we don’t know, ourselves). It’s timely, yes, and as we are living stones, not inanimate statues, we have to participate in the restoration process ourselves––going to church and regularly studying the Bible. We need to pray, fast, and know what to run to and what not to run to.
But when the Master is finished (when we get to Heaven), the beauty of who and what we will be, will be astounding. And as we look at ourselves now compared to what we used to be, I think we can look and see the progress the Master has made.
“…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:5-6).”