Refining Our Smudges

A few months ago my daughter and I spent an afternoon at Paint Spot, a popular place to paint your own pottery. I selected a unique looking spoon rest to put in my kitchen. Several hours were spent mixing the colors just right and centering my design perfectly in the middle of the spoon rest. I wanted my work of art to be perfect, especially since it would be on display for all who would pass through my kitchen!

Finally I carefully handed it over to the employee. She told me our pottery would be fired in the oven and ready for pick up the following week. I couldn’t wait!

A week later I arrived with excitement to pick up what I thought was going to be a polished looking spoon rest. Imagine my disappointment when I looked at it and right there in the middle of the spoon rest was a black smudge about the size of a thumb print!

Wait a minute here…..I paid a lot of money for this and put a long time into my piece of pottery! I surely didn’t want to take it home looking like that. There’s no way I’d want to display it in my kitchen! 

The employee of Paint Spot assured me that this happened occasionally. But no worries…..they could use sand paper to sand down the black spot and then put my pottery back through the oven a second time. Another week would have to pass before I’d be able to pick up my prized possession.  I left there disappointed, yet I knew I’d rather wait for a polished piece rather than taking home something with an ugly smudge on it!!

As I drove home, God redirected my thoughts from the smudge on my pottery to the smudges in my life. Of course I’d much rather use the word smudge instead of sin because it doesn’t sound as bad. But whatever word you choose to use, it’s not a pretty sight at all.

It seems I am constantly having to go back through the refiner’s oven multiple times to get those yucky smudges off my heart. Selfish thoughts, critical words, and prideful actions just to name a few. And believe me when I say there are multiple types  of sand paper He is using to smooth out my rough edges! If you didn’t know already, spouses and children are God’s sandpaper in disguise.

So what smudges do you have in your life? Those ugly, challenging things that just keep coming back repeatedly? No matter how much you try to paint over them, you just can’t cover them up.

God wants to create something beautiful in us and wants the end result to be polished, shining with the light of Jesus. Just as I wanted to proudly display my spoon rest in the kitchen, our heavenly Father wants to proudly display His people…THE CHURCH…. for all the world to see.

But if there are smudges keeping this from happening, He will use circumstances and other people to be our sandpaper. Then He will lovingly allow the heat to be turned up so those flaws can be refined.

Our prayer should be that when (not if!)we are in the middle of the oven, we will be patient as our Heavenly Father, the ultimate potter, continues to refine us until we are perfected in His sight!

Jeremiah 9:7 “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?”