It is a universal truth that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Walk into any pawnshop or antique store and, you will see shelf upon shelf, row upon row, of items people have either sold or thrown away. Refurnished, recovered or reclaimed, the stuff that used to clutter an old machine shed is now proudly on display. I was recently in a warehouse filled to the brim with memorabilia of yesteryear. A good friend that was with me commented that eighty percent of this stuff was junk that nobody wanted. I replied that they stay in business somehow.
Last year, a neighbor of mine graciously allowed me to dig in an old dilapidated barn on her property to “reclaim” the wood. After the long process of restoration, I learned that old barn wood was going for six dollars a board foot. It was a literal gold mine sitting in the woods, waiting for some prospector with a hammer and a crowbar. In the world of wood working, cabinetry, and furniture there is nothing hotter than reclaimed wood.
But what is popular today in the way of turning junk into treasures is nothing new. God has been doing it for thousands of years. Paul reminded the church at Corinth that the world they were living in was filled with thieves, idolaters, and men who engaged in sexual sins. He then states, “such were some of you.” Their lives had been embroiled in the same sinful lifestyles as the pagan world Paul was now condemning. The difference was that He had restored them. He had reclaimed them. He had so fully recovered them by His blood that they were washed clean, sanctified, and justified in Christ Jesus. The same is true of us who know Christ.
Karen and I recently purchased some furniture online. It was a hall tree made of reclaimed wood. As I read the information from the manufacturer, I thought about our lives as believers. They wrote that the beauty of reclaimed wood is in its imperfections. The knots, cracks and damaged areas on the wood add character to each piece, giving the furniture a distinct personality all its own. I personally love this fact, because when I accidentally drop something and leave a mark on the arm of the chair, it just adds to the character of the piece. No cover up is necessary.
God does the same work in our lives. He doesn’t cover the hammer marks or look away from the ugly knots of our former lives. Jesus doesn’t hide the place that’s been marred; He allows His grace to make it beautiful. He brings beauty out of ashes.
We tend to cover the damaged areas of our lives from others when it is those very imperfections that others need to see. The beauty in our lives is not the projecting of a perfect life but in bringing glory to a God who recovers the sinner from the rusty machine sheds of life.