Submitting to God and Painting a Room, an Analogy

I am one of the few women in the world who doesn’t love redecorating the house.  I do enjoy changing a few things around the house as the season change, but I am not someone who notices that the house needs painting or that the curtains are fading. Changing my counter tops from Formica to granite isn’t even on my radar. Fortunately, my husband is very creative and skilled at home improvements, so my home is very nice.

How is painting a room like submitting to the Lord?

Just as I become blind to chipping paint, I get used to my sin.  God shows me the sin I call “normal” and if I let Him, He will make me right again. Of course, God isn’t concerned about just a few focal points, or behaviors, He wants to repaint the entire room of my heart.

When Steve repainted our bedroom, my job was to take down all the pictures. God expects me to allow Him to take down my idols. He will not force, me to surrender my will to His.  Submitting to God means trusting Him with my heart and giving Him complete authority to renovate me.

The following are scriptural references I used as I a guide to this scenario:

For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:3 ESV)

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16 ESV)

 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:7 ESV)

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“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” (Ezekiel 15:6 ESV)

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 ESV)

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 ESV)

Imagine Jesus as the painter, and my heart as the room.  Suppose after asking Him to renew me, I refused to take down a photo from the wall of my heart:

Puzzled, Jesus says, “Jayna I noticed that you left that picture on the wall.”

“Yeah, I just love that photo, I couldn’t take it down.”

“You couldn’t, or you wouldn’t remove it?”

Defensively I reply, “Hey, I took everything else down. I want that one thing to stay up there. Can’t you just paint the other walls? I get comfort and security having it. I can’t remember a time in my life when I couldn’t count on it decorating that wall.”

Jesus never goes against my freewill; therefore, He paints the cleared walls with love and grace.  The walls are beautiful! They give me great joy.  All day I try with all my mind’s strength to focus on the new walls. But the distraction in the room keeps me from peace and abundant life, that I had expected.

Days pass and I forget about the walls and just enjoy my picture.

Jesus reminds me, “Jayna this room is not complete, it would have been better not to have started than to leave it like it is. You have to take down the picture.”

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“I know.” I sign with frustration, “You don’t understand; it is so hard.  I will keep trying; maybe I can tomorrow.”

The next day I decide to paint the wall myself.  Quickly painting the wall top to bottom, I splattered the color on the floor and ceiling without noticing.  When I get near the picture, I use a tiny brush.  I try pivoting it around the nail, so that I can cover all of the wall behind the photo except for the most centered part.  Cleverly I conceal my secret, I accomplished what Jesus couldn’t, renovate my heart without disturbing my idol.

As I put away my supplies, I notice the drips.  Using all of my strength, I scrub away the splatters. Frankly, I am Proud of doing this without any help from Him.  I hum “I Did It My Way,” the rest of the day.

Jesus returns and I open the room certain He will be fooled into thinking I took the picture down at least temporarily before I painted the wall.  I just know He will be impressed with all the good work I did.

However, when I look at the wall with Him. I don’t experience joy. I feel shame. At first my eyes notice that every brush stroke is visible. I turn to compare my wall with one of Jesus’s, I notice that my splatters are not cleaned; they are huge smears.

Jesus just looks at me, as I turn back to my wall.  I am horrified to realize my photo is ruined. Not only is the wall scraped, and the frame bent, but paint has trickled down and dissolved portions of the photo!  I fall to my knees and weep. Jesus holds me as I cry. There are no words of condemnation, no “I told you so”.

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Eventually I look again at framed idol. I now see the ridiculousness of my drawing comfort from the object. Feeling repulsed at the image, I am nauseated at the thought of touching my framed sin, even to take it off display.  Desperately I beg Jesus to take it, to destroy it. As He removes it, I repeatedly apologize for putting it up there and for trying to deceive Him, all the while thanking Him for rescuing me.

Jesus takes more time painting this wall.  Often, He stops and assists me as I deal with my paint splatters.  I am no longer distracted by the framed sin, so I can now give God all of my attention.   The wholeness, the satisfaction I now experience is new to me. I feel comforted, exhilarated, loved, and humble.

Gradually I replace the pictures on the wall.  Jesus and I discuss not only which pictures to use, but their placement.  He has a better ability as to how things will work together on the wall, than I do.

Is there something you are not willing to let Jesus touch? If so, ask Him to reveal your sin from His perspective. Stop and consider what you are giving up to keep that in your life.  If you will submit your will to His, God will gradually remove its power over you.