Friday, October 15, 2010

Let it Soak In

I set the wooden slats from our garden bench on a thick piece of cardboard on our garage floor. Dark wood peeked through the soft yellow paint, beckoning another coat for protection from the baking sun, pelting rain and lingering snow.

I started painting the bench last fall, brushing on that first soft yellow coat. Then one snow turned into another here in Iowa, with a cold, white quilt putting a summery garden bench in the back of my mind.

Then comes 2010. One rainfall merged into another through the spring and much of the summer, and I had set the slats – about the width of my palm – against the north wall of our garage, partly tucked between the upright freezer and my husband’s workbench. Distraction, plus procrastination, and here it is the next October, and I’m finally finishing the project.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

This week, I poured the yellow paint into a paper bowl, took the narrow, black-bristled brush and began in long strokes across the slats. Sometimes, I glopped too much paint on my brush, and I could hear the wood yelling, “Air! I need to breathe!” OK, I didn’t really hear that. However, personification ranks as one of my favorite writing tools.

But the project did speak to me. Actually, God used the painting project to speak to me. He faithfully touches me with truth often, so this came as no surprise to me.

But I am thankful.

You see, I am a studier. I love to flop open my Bible across the oak grain of our fingernail-polish-marked, century-old kitchen table, and look down into the study notes, see if I agree with the interpretation and envision the cultural insights, read the cross-reference verses to see the continuity in His Word, and generally dawdle in learning and re-learning priceless truths. This makes me so utterly aware of His love for me and mine, of His perfection and His breadth.

Genesis 5:21-24
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

I can easily spend hours loitering in the Bible – but the laundry, appointments, errands and vacuuming call to me, too. 

So, as I stroked paint on slat after slat of the seat and back of our bench, I noticed a little paint soaks in. Too much stays on top, pooling and really, being wasted.
Paint will peel off far too easily when it’s spread on too thickly. Likewise, mere head knowledge of God and His word offers less than He planned when He commanded us (me) to keep His words on our hearts (my heart).

His word on my heart? That’s a project I want to prioritize, not set aside. With a gentle heart attitude, not bound by be-a-better-Christian rules, but seeing the words of God’s heart through His love. Because He’s with me always.

Like with the paint, I don’t want to just spread study – or service or anything else – on so thickly that they do not soak into the wood, into my heart.

Romans 5:5
and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.

I long to live, and do live, with Him continually, aware that there will be stumbles on my part. I love and need my relationship with my God – Father, Son and Spirit – to spread out, over and into my life and my identity. More and more. To His glory.

©Helene Bergren. All Rights Reserved.

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