Hi this is pastor ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…being conformed.
Years ago I owned a small woodworking business that provided me the opportunity to design and build furniture. Although that was not God’s calling on my life and therefore was not to be what I did for a lifetime, I enjoyed the process immensely. It was a great deal of fun and very satisfying to take a pile of lumber and shape into something that someone would buy and keep in their home as a usable work of art. I remember one project often because it sits in a prominent place in our mountain retreat in Virginia. That particular piece, a hunt board, is made of old growth redwood. Its grain is tight and strait and those qualities made it a thorough pleasure to work with. It machined beautifully and when finished it had an amazing patina almost from the first day. Somewhere among my photos there is a picture of the lumber stacked on the shop floor before I began building. It was not new clean lumber, it was full of nails and covered in filthy old white paint. It had formerly been the lower section of a bay window on a house I was working on at the time. As I began the demolition process to replace the window, I noticed the back unpainted side of the lumber for what it was and then carefully dismantled the rest so that it could be saved for a furniture project. Thinking about that got me to thinking about what God does in our lives.
Romans 8:29, 30 says “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified these He also glorified”.
Prior to beginning the job of removing that old bay window I had been thinking for a while of building a hunt board but I had not yet decided what species to create it of. As soon as I saw the backside of those redwood boards I knew what I wanted to do with them. In fact, in my mind’s eye I could see the finished product completed while the boards were still in a pile on the shop floor yet to be cleaned and stripped of the ugly paint covering them.
With time the nails that had scarred the wood were removed, the undesirable covering of the old paint was stripped away and the split ends were then sawn off square. Soon a pile of freshly milled lumber was in its place ready to be conformed into the piece of furniture still residing only in my mind. A week later a beautiful piece of usable art stood where the pile of lumber had formerly been. Now that hunt board sits against the wall under a cabinet made of the remainder of the redwood.
The scripture above describes a similar process that we go through at the hand of God. He takes us as we are. Just as He finds us, He finds us acceptable to Him, yet there is a plan from the beginning to make us something more. He sees the value in us from the beginning. There are scars from former hurts that have left us more than imperfect. There are layers of covering on us that have been applied over the years in an attempt to cover our imperfections and brokenness. Aren’t you grateful though that your master carpenter is able to see that in the midst of all that damage you are infinitely valuable to Him?
Just as I cleaned the lumber up, the transformative power of the Holy spirt cleans us up and mends our brokenness. He removes the parts that aren’t useful to Him for the final purpose He has in mind for our lives. Slowly over time He lovingly peels back the covering we have hidden ourselves behind and exposes us, never for the purpose of shame and ridicule but rather to bring out the inner beauty He has always seen in us. The He begins the job of conforming us. Just as I took those boards and conformed them into a piece of furniture, He conforms us into the image the most beautiful thing in all of the heavens…His only begotten Son.
I could have sold that hunt board; I know because I sold several after I built that first one. But that first one wasn’t for sale. I brought into my own house. It was so valuable to me that I wanted it to be a fixture in my own home. God does the same for us. This verse says that though He has only one begotten Son, he conforms us into His Son’s image so perfectly that we become seen as His brothers and sisters…members of the family…prominently placed alongside Him. The second of the two verses I spoke of above speaks of how who He chooses, He desires, and who He desires He restores, and who He restores, He displays beautifully. Lest we make the mistake of wondering if we are one of those special chosen ones, consider the following. For God so loved the whole world (everyone) that He sent His own begotten Son and whoever believes in Him (His Son) will live eternally with them both.
There is no question you have been chosen, the only question is, are you willing to be conformed? The redwood I conformed into that hunt board had no choice. It was going to come into close contact with transformative machinery. We on the other hand have been given free will that the Master might know who desires to look just like Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a useful work of art in the Master’s home.
So now, accepting gladly the conforming work of your Savior, Go be Awesome!