We’re all familiar with the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I have a friend who lives by that motto. She has an incredible knack for retrieving things from other people’s discards and re-creating them into something of beauty and purpose. Let me give you some examples.
The coffee table in her living is an old door. She has painted it, put legs on it, and turned it into a beautiful piece of furniture. She has candelabra made from an old chandelier. She spray painted it with flecks of gold, inverted it, and placed tapers in the holes that used to hold the light bulbs. Voila!
She has pictures that hang from old door knobs that she has mounted on the wall. A beat up old wagon has become a planter for summer flowers, and a window from the house in which her husband grew up has become a frame for a mirror.
I remember going in to Ann’s house one day just a year or two after she had moved here from the Northwest. On her kitchen table sat a bowl filled with hedge apples. Do you know what hedge apples are? They are those bright green bumpy balls that fall from the trees in autumn. I grew up in Illinois and have not the least bit of interest in hedge apples. Ann, however, was fascinated with them because she had never seen them before. She was drawn to their color and texture and enjoyed their citrusy scent. She had been driving and on sighting these unusual balls of fruit, pulled over to the side of the road, gathered up a bunch of them, and brought them home to turn into a colorful centerpiece on her kitchen table.
Ann has a different way of looking at the world. Items most of us would regard worthy to be discarded in the trash or left to rot on the side of the road are seen by Ann with appreciation and potential. How Ann looks at the things of this world reminds me of how God sees us. I don’t know about you, but there have been more times than I could count when I felt worthy of nothing more than to be left to rot. Either because of my own sin or because of the mistreatment I’ve received from others, I have felt like I should be discarded. I even lived for a long time certain of the fact that I was disqualified to receive God’s love; I was beyond hope. Surely my mistakes had deemed me useless to Him. Have you been there too? Have you ever felt that you have been so banged up or broken that you were completely without purpose or value?
We are never less than valuable and full of purpose and potential in the eyes of God. And it’s not because he doesn’t see our sin, or decides to just look past it. He can’t. He is a holy God and He cannot be in the presence of anything or anyone that is unholy. So where does that leave us? Are we subjected to life sitting on the curb of hopelessness? No. From the beginning of time God had a plan to redeem us. All throughout the Old Testament we see that God required the shedding of blood for the atonement of man’s sin. When the law was broken, the Jewish people were required to sacrifice a goat or a calf in order to be seen as cleansed and brought back into relationship with God. This is what we refer to as the Old Covenant. The sacrifices of the Jewish people, however, were not lasting. They had to offer these sacrifices of atonement time and time again.
Today we live under the New Covenant that was established by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Scripture is clear that not one of us is able to keep the law and obtain good standing with God on our own. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Yes, we deserve to be discarded, left in the trash heap of life. Actually we deserve worse. “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23a). But God loves us so much that He sacrificed His one and only Son as atonement, or payment, for our sin. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) And because Jesus is perfect, His atonement IS sufficient. Unlike goats or calves, His sacrifice is once and for all. “He (meaning Jesus) did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12, emphasis added)
I am so thankful to God that although I don’t deserve it, He pulled me out of the rubbish, affirmed my value as one who has been created in His image, and assigned me new purpose. He has redeemed me! He offers this same redemption to you, too! Have you allowed Him to redeem you? Don’t think that you are too far gone…too chipped up, nicked up, banged up, or broken. No one is beyond His redemption. And I encourage you with this…don’t let Him pull you out of the heap so that you remain in your present banged up state. Embrace the new purpose He has for you. Unlike Ann, I would have left the hedge apples sitting on the side of the road to rot. But God doesn’t leave us in despair. He sees the world differently. He sees YOU differently. He has great love for you. He has great plans for your life. He has new purpose for you. Won’t you receive it?
Pray: Heavenly Father, it is hard for me to see myself through the same lens as you. I tend to focus on my flaws, to keep my eyes on all the sin that has been done either by me or to me. I often feel too bruised and beaten to see beyond our present state. Show me, Lord, your plan of redemption for my life. Give me a glimpse of the hope, the purpose, the renewal that I can have when I allow you to redeem my life. Help me to stand on the truth that I am not beyond the power of your redemption no matter what the world says to me. Help me to embrace the fullness of the redemption that is mine through Jesus’ sacrifice. Lord, show me the way out of the trash heap and into the life of love, purpose and joy that awaits me in you. Amen