Removable Adhesive, Velcro, Hot Glue, and other Sticky Stuff
I have more experience with removable adhesive and velcro these days than I ever thought I would need.
If you attend my home church, you know about the museum-style display we have in our foyer right now. It’s a major visual element of our current sermon series, and one that’s super important to our Senior Pastor and where we are as congregation right now. I took part in planning and installing dozens of photos from our church’s 100-year history on walls and wooden structures built for the occasion. And I’m proud of the work we did as a team.
But to get these oversized matted-on-foam-core photographs on the walls, we used velcro backed with removable adhesive - you know, the stuff that supposedly holds 16 lbs per 2-inch strip and yet comes off the walls without damaging the paint. All fine and good for hanging on the flat painted walls. Apparently not so great on the large wooden structures we built standing free form in the foyer. And for those displays that get regular sunlight through the large glass panes, it’s even worse. While the velcro holds beautifully, the adhesive holding it to the wood melts easily in even the slightest bit of heat. I’ve spent more time than I care to say re-applying and supplementing the backs of these bleepity-bleep-bleep-bleep photos than I care to admit. And still, they sag and fall. I got to church extra early this week to make sure things were at least temporarily where they should be and looking good for the Sunday morning crowd. Two photos in particular refuse to stay put, and I replaced their velcro three times in a matter of minutes before the service began.
I’m done with removable adhesive and velcro.
I’m breaking out the hot glue gun tomorrow. Gonna slather it on those wooden frames and make those photos stay put for once. We’ve got two weeks to go in these series and I’ll be darned if I’m spending any more time trying to stick those things where they don’t want to be stuck.
I’ve got parts of life like that - don’t you? Things you hang up on your spiritual “walls” to look good for the Sunday morning crowd? You get something put where it’s supposed to be, and then while your back is turned - plop! Down it falls. Put some more adhesive on it, stick it back up there, and it stays put a little bit longer this time. Maybe even overnight. But show up the next morning and there it is on the floor again. Grrr…. A little bit of heat on the situation and it all fell apart.
I’ve got family issues like that. We can look awesome in the family photo, but turn up the heat of emotion just a bit and the pretty surface sags. I’ve allowed some issues to hide, put them on the back of the good looking stuff and stuck them to the wall so they look nice from the front. I’ve chosen to ignore the signs of discontent, the weakness of the ties that bind us together, thinking they’re holding for now and that’s all that matters. Removable adhesive and velcro might be quick and easy, but it’s no permanent solution for anything. That’s fine for a temporary foyer installation at my church. Not fine with the more important things in life. It’s only a matter of time before the sun comes up, the heat rises, and that quick fix fails, letting gravity take its toll and expose the frailty of the false front. We’re going to have to deal with that at some point.
I’ve got personal issues that I’ve tried to keep looking good so folks can admire me from the front side and never see the weakness in the back. I’ll admit to seasons when I’ve slapped spiritual band-aids on my heart and hung pretty pictures over the messy parts, reaching for the cheap and quick fixes of comfort foods, entertainment, video games, and other brain candy while putting on a really nice looking display for folks. Guess what? Just a little bit of heat on those pictures and they fall to the ground.
I’ve seen others reaching for simple solutions, too, trying to find the formulas that work, the cheap and the simple. It would be nice if we could slap a memory verse or a rote prayer on the problems we face, and goodness knows we try. The books may promise an easy 30-day plan out of depression, and the ideas they offer may have some value, some stickiness to them. But they don’t tend to hold for long. I’ve watched too many fall for the easy-way-out and the weak stickiness of formulaic spirituality. The “name-it-and-claim-it” philosophy, the constant searching for the step-by-step program that guarantees a pretty outcome. I’ve got news for all of us: we’re going to need something a lot stronger than these to hold us up in this broken-down world. The pretty packages of cheap adhesive backed grippies may promise they can hold the weight, but just a little bit of heat proves they can’t.
You and I are smart enough to know better. A solid grip comes from a solid investment in solid stuff, not cheap adhesives. A true hold that stands the test of time and temperature needs more effort and stickier stuff. It’s the reaping and sowing kind of thing that the Bible teaches us about, the idea that we get out of life something proportional to what we put into it. The easy route, the fast route, is often not the route that leads us where were want to be - to something real and permanent instead of pretty but temporary.
And praise God! He holds us tight no matter what. And no matter how many times we fall, He always picks us back up and puts us back in the places we belong in His gallery of masterpieces. Even if we settle for the weakness the world offers, He never does. He doesn’t force us anyplace - we get to choose whether to stay or not. But He offers us the good stuff, the stickiest stuff of all, if we’re willing to accept and endure and invest. It’s Love that truly holds us strong and steady, not the weakness of formulaic religion or Sunday morning appearances.
Kinda makes me wish I started with the hot glue in the first place.
I know, I know, I gotta give us all a break here. My analogy between the picture project in my church foyer and the Project Called Life breaks down at this point. To be real, I didn’t have time to hot glue everything to the walls, and honestly, it didn’t occur to me. I truly thought the velcro adhesive would work. And I didn’t have the luxury of time to experiment with this particular project. We don’t always get that luxury, do we? Sometimes solutions have to come quickly before the whole thing falls apart, and we work with what we’ve got on hand.
When it’s obvious that the temporary solution is failing, will we go back and make the real investment with something stickier? Something harder? Something that takes more time and effort but will yield a stronger result, particularly a stronger bond with the One Who Holds Us Up? Or will we continue to add more strips of the cheap stuff to the backs of our prettiness and keep hanging them up over and over and over again, making sure we look good for the crowds on Sunday morning?
Can we agree to not settle for cheap and easy fixes in the spiritual projects of our lives? Can we encourage one another to invest in the Love that lasts over time, the hot glue of spiritual discipline, prayer, and a real investment of time in our relationship with God? Can we admire the pretty pictures on the front that we all hold up for each other, but also take a moment to look behind the surface at what’s holding us up? And when the photo on the front sags, what if we all came in armed with hot glue guns ready to help - not for the sake of appearances, but for the sake of putting something real on display?
What if we really love Him and love one another? Would that stick?
This week, you’ll find me with a hot glue gun in my hand, spending some extra time with the photos that have fallen the most, the troubling and most frustrating portions of the display. It will be messy, inconvenient, and hopefully effective. And that’s before I even get to the foyer display. I’ll start in my living room chair with my Bible, asking God to apply His love to some places in my life that have been messy. No more removable adhesive velcro to hold things together for me. I’m going for the longer, harder route that promises a better hold to keep me close to Him and right where I belong.
I’ll get to the church photos soon enough.