A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord!” (Isaiah 40:3)
As a young pastor years ago, the church I worked at was too small to afford me a salary. So I took a job in a paint and body shop as a painter’s helper. My duties were menial ~ sweeping up the shop, taking out the trash, running to the store, and a host of other odd jobs nobody else wanted to do.
My primary role was doing the preparatory work ~ getting a car ready for the painter to finish. On any day you would find me cleaning, sanding, taping, applying primer, repairing scratches and minor dents, and setting up the paint booth for the painter.
After the paint had been applied and cured, I then had the responsibility of untaping, reassembling, and finishing out the job for an on time delivery to the customer.
The work was laborious, dirty, frustrating, time-consuming and seldom every appreciated. Certainly the customers were thrilled with the finished product, and the painter received many a pat on the back for a job well done. But I never recall anybody ever commenting about the preparation work ~ unless, of course, the work was done wrong!
The finished product was always spectacular and, in a few instances, award-winning. But the preparation process was always pure grunt and grief. It only took about 15 minutes of actual work to paint a car; but it took three to four days to get it ready. Oh how I wanted to be the painter!
The painter worked up front, greeting customers and hobnobbing with the boss. The painter’s helper was hidden away in the back of the shop, reeking of paint fumes and muttering to himself.
During my time at this job I learned that no matter how skilled the painter was in applying the paint and polishing the finish, if the prep work was faulty ~ it always showed through. Therefore, great pains were taken (and given) in the preparation process.
Are you beginning to get the picture? The work of preparation, though often unpleasant, is absolutely vital! And while the finished product is always brought forth for approval, it was the prep work in those long hours of un-noticed labor that made it all possible. Without the prep work, there is no unveiling.
Might the same apply to our lives?
Maybe you are in “God’s Body Shop” right now – and He is pounding out the dents, scraping off the old coat of paint that somebody else sprayed on you. He is cutting out the rust and putting new panels in place. You my friend are being over-hauled! And the final results will certainly be road-worthy – you can count on it!