Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wrecking Balls and Restoration

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. Devotional is indented.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Psalm 51:12

You know whether a house is being restored or condemned by the size of the tools that are out front. If you see a crane and a wrecking ball, the house isn't being restored; it's coming down. Wrecking-ball responses to the sin of another are seldom restorative. This is one of the things that's so striking about Psalm 51 and the history that surrounds it.

This is a different perspective. I’d never thought of the wrecking ball idea before but I know I have used it in the past and it’s been used against me. The word that comes to mind is overreaction; the response was bigger than warranted. A child does a “small” thing and all hell is unleashed from a frustrated parent. A minor slip-up from an employee leads to a complete overreaction from a boss.

But God's response wasn't a wrecking-ball response. No, God's response to David was the small-tool response of restoration. I live in Philadelphia. It's an older city where much old-home restoration goes on. Pretend with me that you wander into one of those grand old stone homes that's being restored. And pretend that we're watching a craftsman remove one of the three pieces of a triple-crown molding that's on the wall of this wonderful old house. The carpenter is motivated by the vision that this house could be restored to its former beauty, so he's not yanking the molding off the wall with a crowbar. He knows that the wood of the molding is dry and brittle and, therefore, susceptible to cracking and breaking. So, he's using the small tools of restoration. He has a lightweight hammer and an apron pocket full of wedges. He tap, tap, taps a wedge into place, then moves a few inches down and repeats the process. Gently, the wedges ease the molding from the wall. You take a glance behind you, and you see three piles that comprise the three types of molding that trimmed the walls. And you're impressed as you look that there's not a crack in a single piece in the three piles.

What a cool example; I can really identify with it. As a handyman there are many times I end up doing a repair to a wall or ceiling where someone had to make a hole to do a repair. There are times where I see that when the hole was made, it was done with the repair in mind. It is cut straight and with as little damage done as possible. Other times, it looks like someone took to the wall with a hammer and just started knocking holes through it. In that case, the repair is much harder to do.

God's response to the sin of David is the small-wedge response of a Restorer. He uses the small wedge of the sight-giving words of a prophet, who tells a well-crafted story. He uses the small wedge of conviction, causing David's eyes to see and his heart to grieve. He uses the small-wedge of forgiveness, offering David his unfailing love and mercy. He uses the small wedge of reconciliation, drawing David to himself once again.

We see God’s intention for us in this. He wants to change and redeem us. He’s not mad and looking for an outlet to His frustration. Jesus on the cross makes this possible.

So, in his grace God hammers at you, not with the sledgehammers of condemnation but with the small hammers of restoration. He's constantly tapping the wedges of redemption into place. He's constantly working to separate you and me from our sin. He's refinishing us by his grace so that we can shine with his character. We're forever free from the fear of the wrecking balls of condemnation. He was willing to be condemned so that we may live in beauty and for the purpose for which we were first constructed, the praise of his glory.

A question from the meditation:

Where do you see God's small hammers of redemption working restoration and change in your life?

I see it everywhere in my life. If I were God I probably would have given up long ago and torn down the building. But God sees a future in me. He can look beyond my present condition and see what restoration will do.


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