The transformation was amazing. I loved refinishing antique furniture. My husband’s uncle taught us how to refinish furniture when we were newly married. He had made a business of furniture restoration and wanted to pass his knowledge on to us. We learned how to turn tired or damaged furniture into beautiful new treasures. I was able to find many wonderful pieces for pennies on the dollar at garage sales, and restore them into beautiful treasures for our home and for others.
One of my projects was a solid wood golden oak pedestal dining table from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It was round, seating 4-6 people but had two extensions which enabled it to seat eight to ten people. It was shrouded in 5 layers of paint varying from grey, white and tan to bright green. I bought it for $10 at a neighbor’s garage sale. I knew what was beneath the ugly exterior and offered additional money for the table but she refused to charge more than $10. Many people may have overlooked that table unable to see its true beauty and lasting value. The golden oak, which is a hard wood, will last for centuries if cared for properly.
Restoration was a four stage process which began with a caustic paint stripper. The liquid stripper would cut through multiple layers of old paint or varnish. Thick gloves were needed to protect the hands while goggles protected the eyes from splatters. Accidental encounters with the skin would cause intense burning and require a trip to the sink to wash off the fiery goo. The paint stripper would seep into cracks and crevices of the carved detailed areas which made removing it easier and more effective. It was exciting to see the beautiful grains and the color of the pure wood reappear before my eyes.
The second stage was sanding. A good sanding ensured a smooth finished surface upon which the stain would be applied. Some pieces required a rough sanding at first, to level out chipped or scarred places causing them to almost disappear. Fine sandpaper was used to smooth and polish the top layer. The ugly nicks became beautiful. Stage three was staining. The purpose of restoration was to bring the broken or damaged furniture back to its original state. Staining made the wood grain pop with color and restored its beauty. The furniture piece came back to life! There was some oil in the stain which would penetrate below the surface reviving the dry neglected wood. The fourth and final step was hand rubbing tung oil over the entire piece for a smooth semi-gloss or satin finish. The hand rubbing would generate heat which caused the oil to penetrate into the wood grain. Several coats were applied for healing and protection of the wood. It would then harden to shield the furniture from damage and give it a deep sheen. Once restored, the furniture was worthy of being displayed in a prominent place. We used that table for many years and eventually sold it for much more that I had paid when I purchased it.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commandment forbidding them to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, they caused destruction in the earth, the plant and animal kingdoms, and everything living. Satan, who had deceived them, was given the right to have the dominion over the earth which God had given to Adam and Eve. The curses of sin and death were activated and have since had a terrible effect on every living thing. The nature and heart of mankind became sinful and as a result, every human being that has lived on earth became broken or damaged and in need of restoration. Jesus came to restore everything back to its original state as God created it. Restoration began with His ministry on earth and has continued as mankind repented of their sins and believed in the power of His death and resurrection. Believers have been set free from the laws of sin and death and God’s restoration is available to all who will seek Him. When the Lord returns at the end of the age, He will restore everything completely.
Physical and emotional abuse, sickness and disease, immorality, fear and depression are a few of the consequences the choices of sinful man have caused. God’s love found a way to restore all who would come to Him and allow Him to heal their wounds. Isaiah Chapter 61 explains the plan of God to send the Restorer Jesus to His people. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me to bring good news to the humble and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted, and to proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, to comfort all who mourn…(to give) the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit…” Isaiah 61:1-3. (See entire Chapter). Emphasis mine.
How does the Lord heal and restore us and what is our responsibility in the process? Once we are born again into the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, the restoration process begins. Those who earnestly seek the Lord’s presence and willingly submit to the Lord’s discipline and cleansing process will experience the Fire of God. This Holy heat is what the Apostles experienced on the day of Pentecost. “And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each of them.” Acts 2:3. Jesus charged them to wait there and pray until the Holy Spirit came. Like the piece of furniture that was restored, we can do nothing but seek Him and surrender, allowing the Holy Spirit to come and transform our lives into the likeness of Christ.
The men and women in the Upper Room were totally changed, transformed by the fire of God. Fire burns off the useless, damaged surface debris while it cleanses and purifies from decay and bacteria. The Fire of God has the same effect on the heart and mind of man. It exposes and burns off our sin while giving us the desire and the empowerment to be holy. The Lord first appeared to Moses as a burning bush, and to the Israelites as a mountain of fire. (See Deuteronomy 4:9-13). “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, The Lord is my God.” Zechariah 13:9. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings of righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3. The fire of God is connected to His holiness. Fire at its hottest point burns a blue-white flame and purifies everything in its path. We must not be afraid of the fire of God. His fire comes to purify our hearts and make us more like Him. We need to run to His fire and ask Him to purify our hearts. What isn’t purified will be judged, but those who allow the Lord to cleanse and purify them will have pure hearts. It is the pure in heart that will see God. (See Matthew 5:8).
The Lord places us in the church, which is the body of Christ, where we can be sanded and smoothed by “rubbing against” our brothers and sisters in the Lord. “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose].” Proverbs 27:17. We need each other. Our brother or sister in the Lord may be the very one the Lord uses to bring us our breakthrough! We need the correction of the body of Christ and we need the intercession of our fellow believers to make it through. We also need their encouragement when we become weary and tired of the journey. “Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].” Galatians 6:2. The Lord uses our fellow believers to “sand off” our rough edges making us smooth.
When we are in the transformation process, the Lord put’s His “mark” on us figuratively and literally. “Mark the blameless man and behold the upright, for there is a happy end for the man of peace.” Psalms 37:37. This “mark” means to observe or take notice of the man who is blameless. There is something observable about his actions and attitudes that indicate His love and obedience to the Lord. “And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it…but do not touch or go near anyone on whom is the mark. Begin at My sanctuary…” Ezekiel 9:4, 6. The Lord puts His mark or impression of Himself upon those who seek Him and uphold His righteousness. We not only become like Him, we become one with Him. (See John 17). The stain applied to the piece of furniture causes one to notice the beauty within. The mark of God on the righteous causes others to see the beauty of the presence of the Lord in those who love and obey Him.
The oil of the Holy Spirit restores and protects the believer from the attacks of the enemy. It penetrates below the surface sealing and bonding to the faithful of God. It makes them resilient to attack and strong enough to persevere through the challenges of life. It ensures victory. Everyone who is broken can come to the Restorer and be made whole again. Every ugly sin and the scars it leaves can be healed and made beautiful. The Lord has promised beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the Spirit of heaviness and a double portion for all that was lost. There is no need to fear His restoration process because His goal is to make us new again. Restoration is an act of love and mercy. Restoration is vital to the body of Christ. We become made new in the likeness of His image. Wholeness comes through Restoration.