I’m painting the picket fence around our backyard white. It’s not a big yard but there sure seem to be a lot of pickets. I decided to get a paint sprayer and do the job a lot faster. It really worked. Big bucket of paint, long hose, lots of air pressure, and the next thing you know the fence is turning white lickity-split. In about 20 minutes I finished one whole side of the three sided fence. It looks great. When you come into our driveway the first thing you notice is the beautiful, white, picket fence.
At least if you stay in your car. As soon as you get out you can see over the fence on this side and recognize that the rest of the yard is surrounded by the old, dilapidated, muddy brown fence we have had for years. You also notice the faint white tint of overspray all across the grass so it looks like a deep frost in July.
A few months ago I was nominated for a national honor called the Epoch Award. 50 or 60 “unsung heroes” they call them are presented to this wonderful organization that selects 6 to be honored in October. I read many of the bios of the people nominated. They are pretty neat. Men and women who have dedicated their lives to educating the poor, feeding the hungry, or making a difference for the underserved. Everybody I saw on the list deserves the award. They are amazing people.
As for me, I hope they don’t get out of the car. From street level I look pretty good. The people who nominated me did an incredible job writing my bio and credentials. But truthfully I’m a lot like my fence. Nice and white and bright on one side but there are a lot of pickets that are scarred and crooked and muddy brown. I feel like I need a whole lot of spraying to even get close to the others on the list.
Maybe you feel that way about things. Maybe you just don’t measure up. Don’t feel adequate. Seem to be a little spiritually inept. But you know what? You are exactly who God is looking to use. You and your hurts, habits, and hang-ups give Him the perfect tools He wants to show Himself faithful. Paul says God chooses the “foolish among us to confound the wise.” I like the way Eugene Petersen puts it in the Message Bible. “I don’t see many of the brightest and best among you…Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose the nobodies to expose the hollow pretentions of the somebodies?” (I Cor. 1:27)
I don’t care what your fence looks like, God is able to get out the Divine sprayer and make you beautiful and useful. And He is doing that over and over again. You may not be a Mother Teresa or a St. John of the Cross, or a Billy Graham, but when God slaps a coat of paint on you, there is a saint that comes out and the world is better for it.
Now as for the award, I am humbled and gratified. And if the Epoch folk give a trophy for fence painting…..I think I have a real shot. Here’s a link to a song my sister sent me this morning that prompted this thought. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh_fSNz6NvQ And while you’re at it, go to the Epoch page and cheer for some true heroes. https://www.facebook.com/EpochAwards