After I graduated college, I moved from my childhood home to a place where I could count how many people I knew on one hand. I was Miss Independent. I moved into an apartment and starting scavenging the internet for deals on furniture. I ended up with a antique dresser set that was sturdy, but it had a very ugly color. I decided to take it upon myself to sand it down and restain it. I mean how hard could that really be? I got the sandpaper and went crazy on the dresser. After, I applied the stain and let the piece dry. I remember looking at it and thinking how much uglier it looked. The front of the drawers looked scratched and a totally different shade than what the sides of the dresser were. I sent my mom multiple “HELP ME!” texts.
Looking back, I had picked up the sandpaper with no knowledge of what I was doing. This past year I taught classes on making wood signs. The importance of always sanding with the grain of the wood was stressed. That’s when I learned that my method of going crazy in every direction had led to the demise of my dresser. When sanding, it is important to sand with the grain of the wood. If you sand against it, it will tear fibers of the wood and leave scratches. When you are sanding, you can’t see the scratches. Once the stain is applied, the scratches become visible.
We hear the world tell us all the time, “Go against the grain!”. A rebellious, free-spirited mentality is encouraged. Decisions are ours to make. Authority belongs to us. Our bodies, our choices. Dye your hair. Pierce your body. Tattoo your skin. Drink the alcohol. Do the drugs. Be promiscuous. Hate someone who hurts you. Do what you feel. Western society shapes us to be non-conformists. What are we not conforming to, though? Ideals placed on us by our parents, friends, teachers, husband, wife? Sure, maybe superficially. We have to dive much deeper into the roots of our identity to find the culprits of our rebellious hearts.
Our lack of conforming and going against the grain dates back to the fall of man. God gave one command to Adam and Eve
We hold the sandpaper in our hands. Are you going to go with or against the grain? Going with the grain produces a smooth, beautiful product. We must seek God’s will for our lives in order for us to know how to make decisions and sand down our wood. He must guide our hands. We have to seek Him in every opportunity, every chance we get. We must pray. We must surround ourselves with community that will point out scratches in our wood or help us when we are unsure how to continue shaping ourselves.
Rules for Sanding Wood
Isaiah 61 verses 1 and 2 states, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” We all have the power to build a house out of wood. But as
Be humble. We have to recognize that we do not have the answers - God does. The definition of humble is a modest or low view of one’s own importance. We must decrease, He must increase in every aspect of our lives.
Be contrite in spirit. Contrite comes from the Latin word “conterere” which means to grind down, to wear away. We have to present ourselves to God and allow Him to sand away anything that is not of Him!
John 15:2We must be willing to go with the grain of His Word, His leadership, and His convictions! We have to look to Jesus Christ as the perfect model to shape our houses after.
Tremble at God’s word. How much weight and value do you place on God’s word? Is it shaping your life, or are you taking it lightly? Trembling at God’s Word shows your fear and reverence for His blueprints and will for your life. Look at your life and what you value, and that will reveal what makes you tremble.
Our woodworking may not always turn out how we expected or what we would have made for ourselves. We have to have faith that the process of going with the grain of God’s Will makes us beautiful according to His standard. We have to trust that going against Him and with the world will create something scratched and ugly, like the dresser I threw away.