This week, I painted my bathroom. I have paint under my fingernails, which won’t come off. I fell off the ladder, spilled paint everywhere, and now I officially own “painters” clothing. And I even have some bruises to commemorate the experience. I finished the project at around 2:00 this morning, and now I’m exhausted. But at least it’s done.
I really don’t mind painting. The actual painting part, that is. What I hate is the stuff that comes before you can actually put the brush to the wall. You know what I’m talking about – all your flat surfaces have to be covered. All the edges have to be taped off. The walls have to be clean and ready.
The painting is actually fun – like a kindergarten art project. As long as the walls have been properly prepared, it’s really kind of hard to mess up. I like to take the roller and make zig-zag pictures before I cover them up. I even let my kids paint the corners and the low surfaces. After all, one swipe of the roller will cover up any mistakes.
But have you ever gotten in a hurry, been lazy, and tried to paint a room without doing all the work that comes beforehand? I have. And trust me, it turns into a big ol’ mess. And it is hard to fix that kind of mess.
It doesn’t really seem fair that ninety percent of the work goes into what you can’t see. No one will ever go into my bathroom and say, “Hmmmm . . . she did a nice job of taping off those edges.” But if I hadn’t taped the edges, my kindergarten art project would look like . . . a kindergarten art project.
Isn’t that just how life is? Ninety percent of our effort goes into the prep work. Most of our time is spent on the menial, difficult labor that no one ever sees. What we present to the world is just the finished product. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be polished, wise, educated, interesting people without all the boring, back-breaking work it takes to be polished and wise?
But if we try to skip the behind-the-scenes work, our lives will most likely turn into a big ol’ mess. And those kinds of messes are usually hard to clean up.
The prep work of our lives is important work. This is the time we study for the big tests, gather food for the long drought ahead, make little mistakes so we won’t make the bigger ones. This is the learning time, the growing time, the praying time. And much of this work takes place in our minds and hearts – where no one can see.
But when we take the time to properly prepare ourselves, we will end up with a finished product we can be proud of. And whether we’re showing off a pretty bathroom or a loving and wise heart, we’ll be glad we spent the time, did the work, and taped the edges.
Proverbs 6:6 – 8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”