I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. Psalm 89:32-33
I have a guitar that hangs in a display case in my study. It is a testament to roughly fourteen years spent building a guitar. It reminds me often of how there is beauty to be found not only in the sound of a musical instrument, but also in the way it appears. A well built and appointed guitar is a work of art, and thus mine hangs displayed on a wall. I pull it out of the display case and play it occasionally for as beautiful as it might be to look at, its purpose is ultimately to make music. It pleases me that it not only looks good, but sounds good and thus it fulfills its purpose well.
When I was building the guitar one of the first steps involved bending the two straight wooden sides of the guitar into the curved shape that is identified with most guitars. When the two sides are brought together they form the typical hourglass figure of a guitar. But to achieve this shape those straight pieces of wood must be reshaped and reformed. To achieve the bend and curve the wood was soaked in boiling water for roughly an hour and then it was placed on a form and clamped down to the contours of that guitar shaped form. Finally, after clamping it down a blowtorch was carefully used to dry the wood out as it remained attached to the form. Having been appropriately dried, it was then assembled and glued together. It now possessed that traditional shape recognized as that of a guitar.
What I learned in this initial process was that wood has a memory and would continue to revert to it’s beginning form and memory without the application of boiling water, a blowtorch and a different shaped form to which to clamp it. If I were the piece of wood I would consider this process painful and intrusive to my existence. But all of it was done with extreme care and with the intent of forming an instrument of beauty and purpose. At no time in the process was it my intent to destroy the wood or diminish its value. On the contrary, my goal was to see something formed and enhanced that would be beautiful and serve a greater purpose.
I find that spiritual transformation is much like this. It can be a painful process of reshaping, but the intent is to produce something of beauty and purpose, pleasing to the One who loves and cares deeply for me, and you. The psalmist is able to hold in tension both the uncomfortable places of correction with the assurance of love and faithfulness that God displays. It seems that in God’s hands both can be held together. I would much prefer not to have to experience the painful aspects of transformation, but I am grateful that they are the expressions of love and faithfulness to further transform me into God’s image of beauty and purpose.
Like the wooden sides of the guitar, it often takes heat and pressure to form something of beauty and grace. Fortunately we rest in the loving and faithful hands of the master builder who is forming our lives into something more, and better, than we could ever imagine. The challenge is to trust His work and the timing and the process of that work, in our lives. This day provides ample opportunity to surrender to the love, care and formative process of Jesus as you encounter each moment. My encouragement is to stay attentive, don’t resist and watch what God unveils.