I spotted it as I walked up the driveway. The soft teal color and amazing detail of the cabinet caught my eye. As I got closer though, I could see it was in rough shape. The door was hanging by one hinge and there was some damage to the edge of the piece. But oh the detail! And no price tag. I cautiously asked the man hosting the garage sale how much he wanted for the piece. He said he would actually be ever so grateful if I would just carry it away. Perfect! Not much is better for a rehabber than to be given free items.
I have been told many times that I have an ability to see things that others do not. I can look beyond the present condition of an item and what its original purpose may have been and imagine what it could become. I seem to do this wherever I am, whether in a store, at a garage sale or when I see something sitting at the side of the road. My friends and family have gotten to the point where if they see something for free they ask me if I want it! I’m not sure how I feel about being the first thing someone associates with junk but that’s ok. I get a lot of amazing treasures this way. And I do consider them treasures.
By the time a piece reaches me, it’s usually “lived” a full life. It has served its intended purpose, done what it was intended to do, and has usually taken a beating. Sometimes parts are missing. Sometimes things are broken. Sometimes people just get rid of things because they no longer have use for it. Sometimes I know right away what I want to do with an item and sometimes I just stare at for a while until it speaks to me. Some pieces just need freshened up- new paint, detailing, cleaning, etc. and when completed, they still serve their original function (a table is still a table, just with a new look). Sometimes pieces are completely reimagined. When their makeover is complete, not only do they look better, but they now serve a new purpose. What was once bound for the trash dump now finds a new home where it is enjoyed and serves purpose for years to come. I love this!
I see such similarity between what I do with furniture and what God does with people. Broken furniture and broken people actually have a lot in common. For a few people, life works out basically how it’s planned. They know from an early age what they want to do in life and they do it. But for many, probably most, it doesn’t work that way. Even if we have an idea, have a plan, and follow that plan, it doesn’t always work out. Illness and accidents happen, we lose a job, death, divorce, family separations happen, we encounter hindrances and challenges and often end up going a different direction than we had planned. And like furniture, humans can take a beating along the way. We bear the scars of abuse and trauma and it changes who we are. Life events can shape us in such a way that we feel distorted and aren’t able serve a purpose. We get bent and broken and sometimes the hinges come off of our lives. We can feel like a piece of broken furniture sitting beside the road waiting for trash day. We feel worn down and useless, so far away from being purposeful that there is no hope of every getting back.
But unlike broken pieces of furniture that either just get thrown away or have to wait for someone like me to come along, see their potential and rescue them from destruction, we don’t have to wait and hope that someone will take pity on us. See, I believe that God sees broken people much like I see broken furniture. While others may see a person who is rough, damaged or beyond repair, God sees potential. He sees who that person was created to be, everything that caused them to twist and bend away from that purpose and what they could yet become. He reimagines a new purpose for them once he has done some work. He sees how beautiful they will be once they are in their new environment. The way I get excited to work on a new piece is the way that God feels when he is invited to work in someone’s life. He already sees the end from the beginning. He sees what can be beautifully recreated.
The Bible as a whole tells the story of the restoration of humankind. Sin created a barrier between God and man. The life and death of Jesus removed that barrier so that man could be restored to a relationship with God if they choose to. Restoring is not just something that God does for a hobby. It is who he is. Restoring is what God is all about. See, our damage doesn’t surprise or overwhelm God. He doesn’t look at the messiness of our lives and go- oh wow, this one is too much for me to do anything with.
Whatever the reason for the damage in our lives, God can do the repair necessary. It doesn’t matter if hurt or damage came through the hands of another or if we self-inflicted pain upon ourselves. It also doesn’t matter if, like my cabinet, the hinges are off and it’s falling apart, or there is just slight damage to one part of our lives. God can take whatever we bring and do something new with it.
My challenge to you is this: If you are feeling like a piece of old furniture sitting at the curb waiting for trash day and your best days are behind you, invite God to do something new. Simply invite him into that area of your life. Invite the Restorer of all things to do a repurposing in your life. If God can put it into the minds and abilities of humans to restore and repurpose furniture, surely he can do the same for the people he loves so deeply. But it starts with an invitation. Be open. My mother would turn over in her grave if she saw the new color of the antique table she loved so much! But healing and rebuilding often involve shapes and colors we couldn’t imagine for ourselves.
If you are enjoying where you are and living in your purpose, wonderful! I challenge you to look around you at those who may not be. You may not be a refinisher of home décor, but you can be a brush that God can work through to add new color to someone’s life. Share this God Thought, give hope to another that there can be new life and purpose. Dare to see new color in your life and for others. You will love what God can do in the end.