One day a friend was showing me her newly painted living room. I mentioned that she must have worked hard to get it cleaned and prepped and painted in the few days since I had been there earlier. "Cleaned? " she rerplied. "I didn't clean it. That's why I painted it!" I cringed, thinking about how picky I am about prepping. Pastor Paul talked last Sunday about the job of scraping and sanding and patching the eaves at his house before repainting them, and compared it with our lives being cleaned up and patched and made right.
Too often we just want to slap a coat of paint on top of whatever's there, figuring that it's better than the way it was. Sometimes it is, but watching the dirt and stains underneath come back up through the paint is a real bummer. Sometimes our lives are like that, with a fresh layer trying to hide something we're tired of looking at or don't want to deal with. Some times we just need somebody to come along and slap the paintbrush out of our hands and help us scrape off the layers of stuff back to the beginning.
One of the meanings of the Hebrew word for "atonement" is "covering" , the same word that is used for the pitch that sealed Noah's Ark. We human beings are really good at covering stuff up. We had a car in the shop recently that had a nice pretty new paint job, but when we got a look at it underneath, the frame had major creases in it from a front hit, making the car about two inches short of original. Then we took a look at the insides of the fenders to see how they had been made to fit, and saw a couple of lines in the inside of both front fenders where they had been cut and resized. I'm not even sure how it would handle in an emergency!
Jesus introduces a new meaning: while the old sacrifices and offerings were "covering" sin and its penalties, what He came to do is to uproot sin, and get rid of it. There are times that I don't want to paint over a sound original finish. Painted surfaces usually require redoing sooner or later. My dad grew up in the lumber business, and the kitchen he remodeled in the house I grew up in was knotty pine with a clear seal. It could be cleaned occasionally and never needed refinishing in the 20-plus years I lived there--and looked beautiful. Of course, it has to be good material to start with, and finished properly. Old finishes can deteriorate, but I prefer, where possible, to clean the wood carefully and preserve a layer of the original patina if possible. rather than sand it down to raw wood. If our lives are built on a good base, we can let the quality of our original foundation show through.