There is a shed in my back yard. I built it about 3 years ago to house my riding mower and garden tools. It was a kit from Lowes with a shingled roof, two windows and double doors that swing out wide. I remember being amazed when I picked it up on the loading dock at Lowes. Some engineer had worked the entire 12 x 8 foot shed down to where it would fit in a 4 x 8 foot box about a foot deep. Of course, all that “engineering” left some weak spots in the design and I had to modify some things to make it more structurally sound, but, overall it turned out nicely.
My son and I began to put it together one Saturday afternoon, step by step – trying to read the “easy instructions” and find all the pieces as marked. When finally complete (and we’re talking days) it fit nicely in the yard near the playhouse that we had built for my daughter several years before. I had some shingles left over from the new roof we had put on our house which kept “the look” of the shed matching the house. I also had some grey paint left over from painting the playhouse, so after a few weeks of letting the shed settled into its spot and putting on some finishing trim work, I began to paint it to match our house color and the playhouse.
The kit had come with what my Dad would call a “skim coat” on it – a thin coat of paint that was sort of an ivory or peach color and used as a primer for the shed siding. As I began to cover that original coat with the grey paint I was really pleased with the look and how the greys were matching and everything looked neat, and even “designed” for my yard – but I noticed that I wasn’t going to have enough of that grey paint to cover the entire shed. In the final result I got the side that faces the driveway painted and the side that faces the yard finished, but I ran out of paint for the other two sides. One of those sides was between the shed and the playhouse and facing the back woods in our yard. The other, of course was the back of the shed which backed up to some bushes and trees planted on our property line. As I cleaned up the brushes and put away the paint buckets I thought I would go down to ACE Hardware and get some more paint that week to finish up.
That was three years ago.
Not too many months after the paint dried I was out in the yard working one day and as I leaned my wheelbarrow up on the shed I looked at the siding. There was still nothing but a light colored skim coat on it and the wood trim, with no finish, near the roof line was turning grey and weathered. That was when I heard that “still small voice” say to me, “Isn’t this just like your life? Neatly put together on the sides that people can see and left undone on the sides that ‘don’t matter’?” You see, I can live with two unpainted sides of my shed as long as you only see the two painted sides.
Don’t get me wrong here. It’s not that I don’t think the two sides should be painted. It’s not even that I’m trying to hide something. Maybe it seems lazy to you or maybe it reminds you of a “shed” in your life. But, on a spiritual level I know it’s a bit like the Pharisees who love to be seen and respected and yet, as Jesus said, “. . . be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” Matt. 23: 1-3 The Message.
In Luke 12, Jesus expands on this message when He says – “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.” The Message
So I haven’t painted the sides of that shed. Oh, I’ll get around to it someday, I hope, but, for now, it’s a gentle reminder to me and a nudge from a loving Father, who wants me to learn to be transparent, honest and open with others, with my family and, most importantly, with myself.
Because, if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I care more about what you think about me than I do about what God knows about me!
And that’s just messed up.