I am not really much of a handyman, so when, after my dad had helped me throw up a wall for a closet in my house and given me a crash course on finishing a wall and a doorway, I really did not know what I was in for. I was instructed that the key to finishing a wall and doorway well is to apply a little bit of sheetrock mud at a time and to let that dry and then apply additional coats, since it easier to add more mud later than it is to sand off an overage.
So that is what I did. Looking at the battered wall covered with dents and nails and the hideous doorway with metal strips nailed on its corners, I began applying sheetrock mud. The first coat did not seem to do much more than add a white border around all the tape and metal, and after the first day, the wall and doorway was almost as battered and hideous as it was before I began.
After the mud had been given a chance to dry, I went back to the wall and doorway the next day with the same mud and the same knife and applied another coat on them. This time around, some significant eyesores such as hammer indentions, nails, tape, and metal strips were being covered over, leaving a wall and doorway that, though far from where it needed to be, resembled more of what it ought to be than it had the day before. Many imperfections remained, but some were gone, and the ones that remained were not a big as they once were.
After that coat had dried, I went again to the wall the next day with the same mud and the same knife and began applying another coat. This time around, the wall began to blend in with the existing wall so that it was not as easy to distinguish between the two, and the doorway, which was days earlier metal strips and cracking sheetrock, was now a smooth, white surface with just the edges of the metal strips showing. The wall and the doorway were still not yet what they were to be, but they were much more like it than they were the day before.
Looking back upon this simple task to transform nailed-up sheetrock and metal corner strips to a smooth, white wall and doorway, some semi-pious observations came to mind. First, I knew from the beginning of the project what a flawless wall and a finished doorway looked like, and thus I knew what I desired my wall and doorway to look like. Second, because of the greatness of the imperfections and the slow work that mudding is, I knew that it would take several applications over several days to get that desired result. Thirdly, because I knew the length of the process, I was patient in my work. I did not become angry when after the first day the wall and doorway were not perfect, nor did I fret, because I knew the next day that I would come in and conform it more to the image of the wall and doorway that was in my mind. Fourth, despite its imperfections, I looked upon my work at the end of each day with pleasure, for at the end of each day, the wall and doorway looked more like the wall and doorway in my mind than they had the day before. Fifth, I looked upon my work with hope, knowing at the end of the project that the wall and doorway would be precisely like the wall and doorway that I had envisioned.
In this way, I believe that the common task of drywall finishing is a bit of a shadow of the saint’s sanctification by God. For before our God called us to himself, he knew precisely who he wanted us to be. For the apostle Paul writes, “Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rm. 8:29). Before he created us and began the “project” of our sanctification, God knew that he would make us into the perfect image of his Son. However, because of our terrible state as fallen and unglorified men, this conformity to Christ will take our entire lives by the Spirit’s work and his application of Christ’s righteousness, and it will not be fully completed until that Day when he fully redeems our bodies. And because our God knows the length of the work and the surety of its completion, he is patient with us, molding and shaping us day by day, week by week, and year by year into Christ’s image. And though we are yet imperfect, God looks upon us with favor and love because of who Christ is and what he has done, and he works all things in this life, whether pleasurable or painful, to our good, which is our sanctification. Finally, God looks upon us not as we are, but as what we hope for, knowing that he alone will bring us to sanctification’s completion by his power (cf. Ph. 1:6). Just a thought.:)