Years ago I did a lot of woodworking: decorative shelves for our home, some toy boxes; that kind of thing. I learned a very important lesson during that time and it has come around again this week so I want to share it with you.
Whenever I was staining or sealing a wood project, I had to position myself just so in order to know if the job was done. Why is that? It's because in order to know whether or not a surface was properly covered with the stain, not too thick or too thin, if any bubbles were smoothed out, etc., I had to let the light shine on it. With my back to the light I couldn't see any of these things. I mean, I could see but everything looked the same. However, as soon as I went to the other side of the piece and moved around to let the light shine on it from multiple angles, every little imperfection was exposed and I was able to correct it before it dried.
I learned this the hard way on a couple of projects that looked really nice . . . except for that one spot I missed somehow. It was always such a bummer but once I learned to shine the light on it, I eliminated about 98% of those kinds of mistakes. Interesting how it works in life too . . .
I've been in a little bit of a fog this week. My feelings got hurt; I responded poorly; my response came under attack; I responded poorly again. Good grief, will I never get it right?
I used to walk around in this fog for weeks - months! - at a time, wallowing, grieving, blaming . . . Of course these times were also characterized by tripping into things because my focus was on all the wrong things so then there were additional bumps and bruises followed by more wallowing, more blaming. It's really NOT pretty.
But . . .
I have learned something important and that is how to change my focus. Now, I'm not saying I'm really good at it yet (because some of you know me well and I would never get away with that outright lie even if I wanted to), but I do know how to find my way out of the fog once I come to my senses: I "shine the Light on it"!
When I'm discouraged, angry, feeling dry or just a little "off", I go to the Lord and I ask Him to shine His Light on my situation. He always, always does.
I am fairly consistent about writing in my journal and a lot of it is this very thing: "OK, Lord, I am feeling totally discouraged right now so I need you to check me on a couple of things . . ." I pour out my heart to Him then ask for His perspective, and praise God that when we ask for wisdom, He delights in giving it to us, "generously and without finding fault". (James 1:5) I love that!Usually He does that for me through His Word, and oh, how He can speak to us through His Word!! God has a knack for steering me to just the right thing He wants me to read and for this I will always be filled with amazement and gratitude.
The trick of course, is my focus. Those of you who have driven in fog know that the brighter you shine your lights, the less you can see, right? I think that's because your light is reflected by the moisture so all you end up with is a better view of - the fog! When I shine human wisdom on my problems, all I end up with is another set of problems. I have to let the Lord shine His Light on the matter and then the craziest thing happens . . . just like with the weather: when the Son shines down, the fog burns off! Then I can see clearly again. I stop stubbing my toe and banging my shin; I can see my own faults and take responsibility for them; I can make progress on the road the Lord has laid out for me.
Thankfully I am learning to do a lot less bumbling around in the fog each time it rolls in. Praise God that He is always available to shine his Light on the matter . . . that is, whenever I am willing to step aside and stop casting a shadow.