Rough Edges
written by Rev Gary Heard

Living with rough edges can be extremely frustrating, and seems to be a common factor in our community. Builders who have failed to finish on time, building projects still in process, communities in transition, changes in work and home environments looming in the future. How we long for the neat and tidy environments, for the ordered and peaceful existence which epitomises a relaxed lifestyle (at least in the minds of many). It is now over 18 months since the manse renovation project began, and still we await the fence.

There is always two ways at looking at a situation, and I have come to understand the spirituality of change much more over recent months, particularly in my longing to have projects completed. In an age of instant gratification, we find it difficult to cope with delays and frustrations, and this feeds over into our whole view of life, including our own spirituality.

I read of Paul’s ongoing struggles with his “thorn in the flesh”, and Job’s continuing battle with the collapse of all that he had known, and wonder at the purposes of God in it all. And I realise that it is the struggle for change that is – in many senses – more important than the outcome.
We are always going to be a people in process, a people on the road to a new destination, a people in formation. There will always be the rough edges which need to be smoothed and honed. If it is not a struggle with our personal relationships, it is the inner struggle with our own identity, or our greater struggle with the injustices and inequities of life. Life is not and never has been a neat package, except when it is all wrapped into a box at the end. Such closure is death.

Rejoicing in the transitions and the struggles is not the same as accepting them as a final product, but an explicit recognition that God is working in and through them (and us) to shape us and refine us. He is bringing life to us through them. As scripture reminds us, it is similar to the process of refining gold, which can only be done through times of trial by fire:

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith - being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1 6-7)

Do we hate the rough edges much more than the process of refining them?

April 27, 2003
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