A few weeks ago, we sat down like so many other American families this time of year, to invest a night in the activity of carving pumpkins. Now, you must understand that I make this incorrect assumption every year when we buy pumpkins and plan our carving night… that is, I tell myself that my kids are old enough to do the carving now. I know. Faulty. But to justify my thoughts, my kids do tell me that they want to carve their pumpkins on their own, and that they’ve got this. And I’m more than happy to oblige.
So we start by scooping out seeds. We scrape and scrape until the pumpkin is nice and hollow inside, and then it’s time to start working our magic on a beautiful carving that they’ve planned out. You know the drill. This year, the boys wanted Sonic the Hedgehog. To the point of begging. Insisting that they would be able to do most of the work. I questioned the difficulty level but decided to roll with it. And they proved to be right. They could do the carving! For the first 5 minutes of the task, that is.
Yes, in the end, it was another year of me doing most of the work. And whew! If you don’t already know this – Carving. Gets. Tiring. I know it doesn’t look like it from all of the happy photos everyone posts on Facebook, but I will be the first to admit that it’s a cumbersome task. About halfway in, I end up feeling like my kids do – enjoying the first little bit and then growing tired and weary and just wanting it finished. Sonic’s a tricky template too, with this shaved part that doesn’t cut all the way through the pumpkin. Who thought of that, I wonder? But I did it! I finished it. And I wearily, but contentedly, sat back and admired my… I mean our… creation.
Isn’t it the same way with life sometimes? You just feel like the poking and the pruning and the reshaping never seems to end. You get through one trial only to feel stuck in another one. You ask God for relief from one challenge only to discover another challenge is coming your way. Carving hurts. It scrapes away the bad in order to expose the beauty, and it’s usually a long process. I’ve felt it all too often lately. And also all too often, I let myself get way too focused on the process and not on the end result.
I’ve been going through this amazing Bible study book on hope, and I’m being reminded that a lot of our perspective on life comes from where our hope is placed. As has been seen all too clearly lately with the election hubbub, getting hung up on difficulties and current dark days results in a total lack of hope. It even can result in intense fear over the future. But keeping an eternal perspective shifts our focus to one that can’t help but be filled with hope. Because that’s what Heaven, our ultimate eternal hope because of Jesus, is all about.
Heaven… The place where we receive our inheritance as sons and daughters of Jesus, the Author and Finisher or our faith. (1 Peter 1:4) Where we receive the complete fulfillment of adoption and redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23) Where there will be no weeping, no pain, no death, and no sorrow. (Rev. 21:3-4) Where our Savior will personally wipe away our tears with His nail-scarred hands and tell us that we are home where our souls belong.
And so, for now, we endure the chipping and the scraping away, even when it hurts and is exhausting and we just want a break from all the hard. Because it really does have a purpose. We are being refined and recreated into beautiful creations.
Every time I walked by that finished pumpkin, it gave me the reminder…
It’s all worth it.
Something beautiful is coming.