Finances were slim when my husband and I first married, which meant we had to be resourceful as we gathered furniture for our new household –a couch from my parents, a dresser from his, an antique bed I bought cheap from a friend. We were lacking a stove, and when my husband’s parents offered one they had found in an old shed on their property, we were elated.
As with many unclaimed items, the stove was a mess. Grease and grime from years of use caked the burners and the oven looked like it had never been cleaned. Crusty and blackened inside from countless casseroles and pies boiled over, I knew it would be a challenge, but we needed the appliance. With a lot of elbow grease and the optimism of a young bride, I figured I could make it sparkle inside.
I tackled the messy task, and after a full afternoon of scrubbing, we had a shiny stove for our new home. Plus, stored within the stove were surprise treasures which were mine if I wanted them –a glass baking dish and a cooling rack which I still have on my kitchen shelves. I was tired and grubby but the end result was a valuable exchange for my hard work.
Recovery, reclamation – it can be messy business, especially when we’re dealing in reclaimed lives. The recovering alcoholic, the rescued sex-trafficked victim, the man or woman struggling to regain their identity in God... Often left behind and forgotten or hidden away and isolated, at first appearance you wonder if it’s worth the trouble to wash the years of disuse and misuse off their lives.
But it is. It’s worth it. If you’re willing to invest the time and effort and love into the labor – eventually you’ll have a beautiful human being, a life reclaimed and fit for the Master’s use.
And once you can see through the hard and blackened exterior, you may be surprised by the treasures inside. A skill, a talent, a beautiful gifting just waiting to be discovered –and all of a sudden you realize it was worth all the elbow grease, all the heartache –it was worth it all to see this life become a vessel for the Lord.
Together, may we see beyond the blackened exterior of a person’s life to the promise inside. May we have the courage to brave the messiness of rehabilitation and believe for the beauty. May we be the people who, with patient understanding and Spirit-empowered actions, love people through their mess to discover a new life in God.
"...And God has given us the task of reconcilingpeople to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:18 NLT