God is a stripper.
No, not that kind. (Though if you believe Jesus, strippers are probably closer to the Kingdom of God than many religious people… See Matthew 21:31.)
When I say “God is a stripper” I am reminded of a “looking for work” advertisement I saw in the newspaper a few years ago. At the top of the ad in big bold letters it said, “I’ll strip for you!” This ad was placed by a lady who owned a furniture stripping company. She was offering to strip and refinish your wood furniture. If you have ever tried to refinished your furniture, you know how valuable her services are. If I had to refinish the antique table my wife and I own, I would hire a stripper… a furniture stripper!
But all of us have something more important than our furniture, and that is our life. And in the life of every single one of us there are blemishes and defects. We all have areas of our life that need to be refinished, refined, or removed.
So when we pray, “God, make me usable to you! Make me into the kind of person who can do great things for you!” He comes in and begins stripping away everything in your life that holds you back and drags you down. He makes you into something useful and beautiful.
This is the “refiner’s fire” we sometimes sing about, where God burns away the dross to leave behind precious gold, silver, and jewels. This is the purifying fire which Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 3 where our works are put to the test so that only what is valuable and eternal remains, and the wood, hay, and straw gets burned up.
Such a process is long and painful. It may feel as if God has abandoned or forgotten about you. But when you emerge out the other side, you are beautiful and useful for His purposes.
Have you had the experience of God stripping something away from your life? What did you learn? How did you get through it? Are you glad you went through that experience?