This last week, I have thought a lot about Trash and Treasure. I grew up in a family of three girls and with a mom as a full-time teacher and a dad as a full-time architect, we shared clothes and passed them down as we grew. We got new clothes for Back to School, Christmas and our Birthdays which was a treat. But before we bought a brand new $80 pair of jeans at the Mall, we would usually find more success (not to mention a bit of savings) at a local thrift store. My love of bargain shopping has carried with me well into my adulthood and still to this day, I love finding deals of gently used items for a fraction of the cost. This past Friday for example, my friend and I went to a local Consignment Sale mostly for children, and I found quite a few deals of costumes, shoes and new(ish) toys for the kids that we will wrap up for Christmas. I was especially proud of three very fancy Disney Princess costumes, with tags still on them, all in Emmaline’s size for a fourth of the price. Some may see that as someone else’s trash; but I view it as a treasure. And a pretty great find!
But this perspective change from Trash to Treasure goes beyond simply bargain shopping; it is a theology of restoration. A belief that God is making all things new. The first time this hit me in a profound way, I was eating some really great pizza. When Ryan and I were serving the University and a church in Gainesville, FL, we used to love going to Satchel’s Pizza for a slice, a loaded salad and their homemade Root Beer. Satchel’s Pizza is a Staple in Gainesville, so check it out next time you visit. What is better than anything you can consume there is the Wall O’ Junk; I’m serious, that is what it is called…you can’t make this stuff up. The Wall O’ Junk is made of items from the trash that have been repurposed and refurbished with creative, loving care to look like something else. You can eat in an old broken-down van, or outside under an inoperative plane or sit inside looking at stained glass windows created from trash. The décor is quirky and fun and if you sit and stare long enough, you see redemption. If you open your mind wide enough, you can see the Kingdom of God at work. If humans can make a fun and colorful place to eat with trash and broken-down items, how much more can and will God make our old selves new again?
Our entire Scriptures affirm this over and over. It did not just start with Jesus, but God has always been in the business of renewing and restoring lives. When Abraham and Sarah were finally able to have a child and a lineage after years of barrenness, God was making old lives new. When Moses was afraid and lacked confidence in his leadership, God made his old life new. When Ruth choose to stay by her bitter mother-in-law rather than retreating, God used Ruth to make old lives new. And it goes on and on and on. The story of redemption and restoration is at the heart of our very faith. That God could use a poor, undereducated, and unwed teenager to obediently bring forth God incarnate; it was once again God making old lives new. Remember Church Famil, that the story of God began in a Garden called Eden and ended in a Garden with the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. Then the most important event to our Christian faith, the resurrection also happened in a Garden and we know that in a garden, things are restored and dead things are made alive again. It is the same in today’s world. God is constantly taking the trash of our lives and turning it into a treasure. God continues to amaze me as he turns my anger, my pride, by self-seeking ways into moments where God can be glorified and I can grow and be restored.
One of my favorite Scriptures, Isaiah 43:18-19 said another way sounds like this:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
Isaiah 43:18-19 The Message
God is doing a new thing in our hearts, in our church, in our nation and in our world. Do not lose hope, don’t dwell on the past. But look for where God is taking the trash of our former selves and turning it into treasure. Look for the Gardener, God is doing a new thing…do you see it?!