After my mother’s death, my sister and I tried to find places and people for all of her things. We gifted our children with certain items, integrated pieces into our own households, shared with people in need and parceled parts of her collections to especially close friends.
Many of the things we kept held little monetary value but encompassed a wealth of memories from our growing up years. One such item was a fancy gold leaf towel holder which sat in my mom’s bathroom. Even in the assisted living facility where she spent her last two years, she preferred her environment to have a flair of elegance and grace. For many years she wiped her hands on lovely embroidered towels hanging from this standing rack.
Although I knew I wouldn’t use the towel holder, I couldn’t quite let it go. So I repurposed it. Rather than towels, it now holds an assortment of bracelets which I can easily grab on my way out the door. I love that I have been able to make good use of something which reminds me of my mom and yet serves my lifestyle in a practical way.
Repurposing, reusing and upcycling have had a huge resurgence within the past decade. Most millennials would prefer old over new, quirky recycled one-of-a-kind items over mass produced ones and things with interesting history rather than those with a large price tag. The internet is chock full of ideas, tutorials and videos on ways to repurpose hundreds of things: 40+ Ideas For Repurposing Old Jeans, 100 Ways to Repurpose and Reuse Broken Household Items, 30 Ways to Use Worn Out Tires as Garden Décor. . . and the list goes on.
I couldn’t quite let it go. So I repurposed it.
Although many would consider the repurposing craze a recent innovation, I find that Jesus was into repurposing long ago. When he kept a preordained appointment with a woman at a well he saw potential in a person whose moral code had completely eroded. And when another woman had been deemed so valueless she should be stoned, he graced her life with beauty and with hope. Then when a thief on a cross asked for forgiveness, Jesus declared this social castoff to be a person worthy of paradise. This, my friend, is repurposing at its finest.
Wikipedia defines repurposing as “the use of a tool being re-channeled into being another tool, usually for a purpose unintended by the original tool-maker. Typically, repurposing is done using items usually considered to be junk, garbage, or obsolete.”
Revelations 21:5 is a favorite of mine, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new.” And He does. Oh yes He does! Not only does He make new creatures out of you and me . . . out of the thief . . . the adultress. . . the woman whose life resembled a sad soap opera of searching, but He also redeems situations and circumstances which have left us battered and worn. And in the process He truly does work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)
Jesus was into repurposing long ago.
The Biblical account of Joseph is a perfect example of God’s repurposing at work in someone’s life. Fueled by jealousy, his brothers threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead. Pretty unsavory treatment by your closest of kin, wouldn’t you say? Unforgiveable by some people’s standards. But God took even this wreckage of relationship and somehow repurposed it into something good.
When Joseph is later promoted to a palace position and able to save his entire family from certain famine, he summarizes his experience to his shame-faced brothers in these words, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” (Gen. 50:20) That’s because God is in the business of repurposing the painful experiences of our lives. Betrayal into Blessing. A Broken Family into a United One. Rejection into Restoration. Only the God of the universe could have recycled that family mess into the thing of beauty it became!
And that same God is available to you. His deepest desire is to lift you from the dust of discarded castoffs and cause you to shine like the treasure you are. It’s His specialty. It’s what He does best.
I so love the story of Christine Caine, a beautiful example of a life repurposed. Her Australian accent and dynamic stage personality create a charismatic allure with no clue to the pain of her past. Sexually abused by four different men over a period of twelve years, Christine could identify early on with feelings of betrayal. Add to that the fact that at age 33 she discovered for the first time she had been adopted and had no biological connection to the pair she called mom and dad. Her birth certificate said she was “unnamed”, simply Case #2508. It also said she was “unwanted” by her birth mother. A discarded child who is later repeatedly abused. A perfect candidate for repurposing!
God is in the business of repurposing the painful experiences of our lives.
Taking the “junk, the garbage and the obsolete”, the Master Carpenter refurbished and refinished Christine into a brilliant spokesperson for faith and freedom. For years she has been speaking to crowds of thousands, appearing on television and writing books that inspire and encourage. But eight years ago, she upped the game when she and husband, Nick, founded the A21 Campaign to eradicate human trafficking. They focus on awareness, intervention and aftercare.
Aside from offices in their home country of Australia, they have established headquarters in the U.S., England, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, South Africa and Thailand. Their motto is “Our legacy is freedom” and just last year alone they sponsored 300 Freedom Walks in 40 countries. With over 60 million people reached through social media, 212 million reached during the 2016 Olympics, thousands of captives freed and hundreds of sex traffickers imprisoned, Chris and Nick Caine have become generals leading a modern day army.
I love that Christine says she had to decide whether to believe the facts or the truth. Facts say that she was unnamed, unwanted and unqualified. Truth says that God knew her and chose her before she was formed in her mother’s womb (Jer. 1:5). Truth also says that “She is God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for her to do.” (Eph. 2:10) She chose to believe the truth and to allow God to repurpose the disgrace and disadvantages of her life.
Facts say that she was unnamed, unwanted and unqualified. Truth says that God knew her and chose her before she was formed in her mother’s womb (Jer. 1:5).
Her story is one of victory. Of triumph. Of winning against all odds. A life that could have been discounted was remade into one of purpose, of great destiny and of inestimable influence. I encourage you to let The Creator re-create your sorrows and sin-sickness today. He has been in the repurposing business for years and in Isaiah 61 promises “To all who mourn . . . he will give beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Yes, my friend, that includes you.