So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. — James 1:4 NLT
On nothing he ever made did I find a rough spot.
Dad was a perfectionist. When he found himself pastoring a small country church, leaving him little to do during the week except prepare his sermons and make a few visits, he decided to take up a new hobby: woodworking. He began with little things, like small picture frames on which he glued pictures he had cut from calendars or other places.
When Dad transitioned to a larger church, which took more of his time, he kept the hobby. He put all the tools and tables he had purchased and made under the carport, making it impossible for Mom to park her car there. By this time, he had graduated from smaller to larger projects. He even made Mom an entire bedroom suite.
Eventually, all of his family members got something Dad had made. But one thing no one would find on anything he made was a rough spot. He sanded, then ran his hand across the wood. If he found a coarse area, he sanded again. He repeated the process until the wood was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Dad had a reason for sanding until the wood’s surface was smooth. Doing so made the varnish easier to apply, and it sure made the furniture easier to dust. I’m sure if the wood could speak, it would have told how much the sanding hurt.
James talks about a type of sanding God does — or, at least, allows. God calls His sanding trials, and they come to everyone. Enduring them produces perseverance, which in turn makes us perfect and complete.
I was born with sharp corners and rough edges. The Bible calls them sin. I arrived in the world with a sinful nature. My environment and circumstances further developed it, but I didn’t appear with a clean slate, making it possible for me not to need God’s help.
God performs His first sanding when we ask Him to forgive our sins and give us a new nature that wants to love and serve Him. But we need more sanding than just that first experience. We need a few trials … a few troubles … along life’s way. Maybe even a number of them.
Through the trials, God sands some more. And, like Dad, He runs His hand over our lives to see if any rough spots still exist. Priorities. Unhealthy relationships. Are other things stealing our focus? Are we only squeezing a little time in for Him? Have we missed the boat financially? If so, He’ll sand a little more. And He’ll keep sanding until all the rough spots are smooth — a process that takes a lifetime and one that’s not always enjoyable, but needed.
God sands because He loves us. He wants us to mature into more than we presently are. He desires spiritual growth that will form us more into the likeness of His Son, which is His ultimate purpose and plan for us. Through God’s sanding, we learn to depend on Him, rather than ourselves.
Don’t resist God’s sanding. He has good purposes for it, and it will work for your good.