I have a question for you to ponder:
Who are your sponsors?
Who are the people who cheer you on? That try to make your dreams come true? Encourage you to work hard at your passions? Stick with you when you appear to be failing? Pray you through tough times in your life?
Sponsors can be anybody. Some people have many, some people have none. When I sit back and look at my life, I can get pretty overwhelmed...I have so many people rooting for me. It's good to be reminded, especially when I don't feel like people should believe in me.
My husband is one of my sponsors and a very thoughtful man. We have been married just over a year now and I don't mean to brag, but I have yet to hear of a better wedding gift than what he gave me. Now, before I tell you what he gave me, let me explain why it is so meaningful to me.
I have been playing the piano since I was a little girl. Playing the piano is peaceful, calm, a way for me to let go of worries. It's the foreign language I was meant to learn and speak. Being home schooled was ideal for my love of the piano. And although I was not the most disciplined student in school as a kid, I would spend *hours on end practicing the piano.
*Now before you say, "oh I wish my child would practice the piano that much" just know that practicing an instrument does not necessarily sound good. In fact, it most likely doesn't sound good. That is why one practices, so they can sound good. ;)And believe me, I grew up constantly irritating my siblings with my obsessive practicing.
Anyhow, as I grew older, and school became more demanding...I spent less and less time practicing, and more time on other things. College demanded a huge sacrifice to my progress as a pianist, not that I regret continuing my education, it's just the nature of where I chose to go and what I chose to study. Those of you who go away to college can probably relate in some way. Priorities shift. Time becomes a hotter commodity when you've got an average of 50 hours of class time and homework each week. Not only does time present limitations, but so does an accessible piano. I am not complaining. I was so blessed to go to a school with several accessible pianos and authentic keyboards (no "key-tars" here).
So, when Joel and I married, some good friends of ours (Ryan and Mel Clouse) had inherited an upright piano which they didn't need (having an upright and keyboard of their own already). For about two years this piano sat on their front porch outside. I wish I had a picture to show you, it was quite the sight! Well our friends told us we could have the piano when we got married since we would then have a place to house it. I was so thankful to have my very first piano of my own! Even though it was a little beat up, I didn't mind. A piano is a piano. So, a few days before the wedding, I inquired of Joel if he was able to get the piano from the Clouses. He simply said, "they got rid of it".
Considering it was a few days until our wedding, I remained considerably calm (at least on the outside). On the inside I was devastated/annoyed/frustrated that Joel hadn't even told me or give me fair warning. I wanted to ask so many more questions but I knew I should just let it go...after all, it wasn't the end of the world and that piano isn't the only one on earth; so I rationalized...and wisdom suggested not to get into a fight days before our wedding. ;)
So the wedding came and we went on our honeymoon to Victoria B.C. and came back home to our L.A. apartment a week later. When we walked in, I opened the door to this beauty:
I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement I started crying a little! :) It was the piano from the Clouse's porch, only Joel spent the whole summer secretly refurbishing it for me. Now, MY name was painted on the front and Joel inscribed our wedding date on the inside of the lid:
This gesture filled my heart with joy and thanksgiving. Joel must have spend hundreds of hours making this piano beautiful for me. It was his way of saying: you can do it! I believe in you! :)
The piano is beautiful on the outside because I have a kind and hard-working husband. AND it is beautiful on the inside because after a year of enduring (well, more like avoiding) a terribly sharp high C#, we got it tuned (thanks Mom and Dad!). They have sponsored me. So, now you can see why I brag about my husband's wedding gift to me!
Think about those sponsors of yours.
Do you have any? If you do, hang onto them. They are the ones who help allow the process for you to be "refurbished" inside and out. They are the grace-givers. They are the ones who choose to love you even if it means you will misunderstand them.
I am like my piano. Sometimes it feels like life has left me outside on the porch. Like the dramatic temperature changes have damaged my high C# until it is out of tune and painful to hear. How could anyone use or want an old abandoned piano? Perhaps the maker of the piano...
How do I get refurbished?
There is only one way.
Sanctification is like a metaphysical refurbishing. I believe God uses sponsors in our life to stay by our sides during the process of sanctification. I mean, it can be painful to have unnecessary but familiar things removed from our lives. Isn't just like God's love to give us people to cheer us on through those transformations?
Maybe you're not sold on the idea that God's love could be so intentional or intense for you that He would sand you down, wipe off the saw dust, dry rot, termite damage (you name it)...re-stain you with a beautiful mahogany stain and even tune your rusty strings. But I encourage you, it is. The love of God for you finds no obstacle too big to transform your life! There is no betrayal, lie, or dishonorable action that He doesn't long to forgive and begin the refurbishing so you can be a beautiful reflection of His intense love and devotion to you.
I love how Paul encourages the Thessalonians to accept the process of refurbishing:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Not only is Paul confident in God's ability to transform, but also His faithfulness to continue the transformation until Christ comes! This is such good news. And Paul would know better than anyone.
Before Paul wrote letters to the early churches, he was Saul. He murdered christians. He led others to do the same. He was a "really bad dude" as Mike Mercer, my pastor from Beaverton Foursquare puts it. But then, God decided to encounter Saul on one of his murderous journeys.
God did not force Saul to change. But, let's be honest, if you were Saul and someone offered you a clean slate, true and lasting forgiveness, and essentially a "get out of jail free" card (except INFINITELY better!), wouldn't you take it? The only reason you wouldn't is because you'd either be an idiot or too proud to refuse such grace and mercy.
Anyhow, Paul wasn't just writing about something he wasn't familiar with. He knew the transforming power of God's loving hand. Even the corrective love of God made sense to Paul because he knew he needed it to keep his "whole spirit, soul and body" blameless until Christ's return.
Why do I love my piano so much? It's not just because my handsome husband took the time to restore it to even better than it was before it was neglected...it is because I have hope that no matter my sin, my flaws, my evil thoughts, my struggles are not too overwhelming for God to change.
The process is long. It is at times painful. But I've got my mind fixed on what the finished product will look like. What she will sound like. My sponsors remind me when I get side-tracked. My piano is a good reminder. It's like God saying to me: I can take what some call "junk" and make it of great value. He's an expert at it.
You were made possible by God. Think on what the end-product of you should look like. Are you allowing the refurbishing needed in your life? Do you invite sponsors to encourage you and love on you in the midst of the process? Let me encourage you! Let God do the work needed to make you beautiful inside and out! Let people help you! We ALL need a sponsor. You certainly are not alone!
So, from my living room to yours:
Let the refurbishing begin and continue!
Miss Q Berry