Sandpaper. It is…well, brown and abrasive; not too appealing. I have used it on many occasions to complete home improvement projects. I’ve even become well-acquainted with the different types of “grit” they come in, depending on how coarse or fine I needed the sandpaper to be. Sandpaper was originally called “glass paper” because it actually contained small pieces of glass in it. I can’t imagine what that might have felt like on skin!
I do know a thing or two about how today’s sandpaper feels on skin due to trial and error while refinishing and painting furniture. I remember a time when I was trying to sand off the finish of a piece of furniture with some coarse sand paper, on an electric sander and I ran it across the top of my hand accidentally. It left a big red mark that burned. It smarted for some time.
My sandpaper experiences aren’t too different from how the realities of life can hurt us sometimes. We use sand paper to gradually smooth over a rough surface or to remove something that is deeper than the outer surface. God uses “sandpaper seasons” in our lives to do the very same thing. Sometimes God allows “sand paper” to dwell in our life.
Sandpaper seasons are extremely uncomfortable and often annoying. I am going through one right now, and I dare most of us are. Sometimes it seems like the very floor I walk on feels more like sandpaper than soft carpet. These seasons are things that bother us on many different levels. Sometime the sandpaper is a person, Someone disappoints us, they do not live up to our expectations. Some becomes sick, someone we love dies, the money does not go as far as the month, I don’t get the same attention as others, I failed, the vacation was cancelled, all and more can be sand paper and those attached to these failures or disappointments are to us the more coarse grit of sandpaper.
Through tears of frustration and yes sometimes some angry prayers I find I can be refined by the sand paperseason. I cannot alter another persons choice to be the sandpaper in my life, I can however make the choice on how I allow the sand paper to effect me. This does not mean I enjoy the process or the people that are being used.
I have lived and walked I faith long enough to know that God always has purpose in the pain and function behind the frustration caused by these sandpaper people. If I am the problem. I need to allow this sanding season to smooth out my rough edges in my character and to deal with the imperfections that are surfacing in fragile life I live. If the sand paper people are brought into my life to challenge me in my prayer time and devotion to God I must be sensitive to the Master Craftsman. I must lean into Him and allow Him to protect my heart and mind.
James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
I have known this verse for a long time, and I love what it says about trials producing perseverance. As I continue to read the first chapter of James, I think the fourth verse speaks more directly to sandpaper seasons.
It says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I certainly do not desire the toil and pressure of the sanding that I need to submit to, but Even more so, I do not want to come to the end of life knowing I went without.
When we go through these tough seasons in life and most situations do not go as planned or just rub us the wrong way, we cannot retreat. We must stand firm in our faith and let these trials shape us to be more like Jesus. Sometimes, I simply don’t know if I have the mental or physical stamina to get everything accomplished that I need to as a Christ-follower, many demand more than I desire or feel capable of giving. Many times, I end up emotionally shutting down and retreating to something mindless like a book set in ancient times that is mixed with enough true history and Hallmark type of romance or social media. In my wiser moments, I call out to the Lord and meditate on His Truth. He is my Sustainer. He is the only One who can help me allow perseverance to “finish its work”. It is by the Master’s Hands and permissive plan that the sandpaper perfects the finish.
Through prayer and reflection, He shows me pictures of how past sandpaper seasons have harvested fruit in my life; fruit that can only grow through a sandy season. This type of season removes weeds and adds the nutrients that are needed for growth. I am amazed at the amount of patience God has for me and my shortcomings it is His daily fillings and Amazing Grace that has brought me this far. It is by His Grace that as Paul stated in Philippians 4:13 that I can do all things, with stand all things, this includes that sandpaper seasons
If you are going through a sandy season right now, take heart in knowing that you are not alone. God is with you and is using this to “refinish” you to be more like Jesus and closer to His heart. It is my prayer for you and for me that we will persevere through our sand paper season and arise “mature and complete”.
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