It had bothered her for years. The spot on the wall, a fist-sized crescent, the sole remaining reminder of a particularly bad episode of panic. When she closed her eyes, she remembered it well: the anger, the tears, the pain when her fist met the wall. At the base of the stairs, right by the front door, it sat in direct line of sight for anyone who entered. She had trained herself not to pay it any attention, but on the rare occasion that it again caught her eye, it was all that she could see. The dent, mocking her, constantly reminding her of what had happened and who she had been. Failure, it screamed. You are a failure.
But now, as she watched her husband smear joint compound on the spot in preparation of a long-awaited paint job, all she could think about was how empty that wall looked without its ugly flaw. It looked like every other wall in the house. It looked storyless. It looked…odd.
And as the sandpaper smoothed out the roughness and it looked more and more refined, something within her cried a little. That spot was a kind of reminder of how far she had come, and of how far God’s grace would always willingly reach to catch her. That spot, ugly though it had been, was a part of her story, and removing it seemed wrong somehow.
It occurred to her, as she stared at the smooth perfection of the wall, that while she had wanted nothing more than for that spot to go away, she was grateful that God didn’t do that with her rough places. No, when repainting a wall, it is easy and necessary to cover up spots like that so as to make the walls look as good as possible. It’s a fresh start, after all, and there will be plenty of marks and scuffs to come. The old ones can go.
But God…well, He isn’t content to simply smear a compound over the rough places in her life. He isn’t one to cover them up and move on from them, acting as though they had never been there. He didn’t dwell on them, shamefully reminding her of the bad days and her worst moments, but He didn’t forget about them, either.
As she picked out paint colors and worked on the rest of the room, she realized that if her life were a room and God were the painter, He wouldn’t use a putty knife and a mysterious squishy joint compound at all. With tears in her eyes and gratitude overflowing from her heart, she realized that God was more likely to bring in an ornate frame. One of gold or silver, perhaps, and to mount around the glaring imperfection. It wouldn’t be there to simply point out how messed up she was…..but would be there to remind everyone who entered of God’s grace in the imperfect moments. It would be there as a forever reminder that when we are ugliest, God shines most beautifully. It would remain as a permanent altar, for her and everyone else to see that nothing is ever as it seems, and nothing is ever left as it is.
So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength). (2 Corinthians 12:10 AMP)