When I was young, my Dad worked for the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District. What a mouthful, right?!? There’s not even a good acronym for that. So whenever a friend or teacher asked what my Dad did, I always told them he worked for The Recycling People.
The Recycling People’s office was within walking distance from our home, so my brother and I often popped in to say hi or have lunch. Because part of Dad’s job was educating groups about recycling and its benefits, he liked to try out demonstrations on us. During one such visit, Dad taught us how to make recycled paper from discarded newspapers and documents—papers pulled straight from the trash.
We shredded old memos and copies of the Journal Gazette and dumped the confetti into tubs of water. The paper quickly broke down into pulp. Using a framed-in screen, we lifted the mush out of the water and set it on a table to dry. After a day or two, we returned to find the pulp no longer a sloppy mess but a beautiful paper canvas ready for use.
While Dad’s time with The Recycling People did not ignite my passion for living green (don’t worry, Dad; I still fill my recycling bin twice a month), it did give me a beautiful picture of redemption. Even now, I love taking old things—a nightstand or an outdated piece of artwork—and envisioning what it could be with only a little paint or creativity.
Even more, I love how recreating something once frail or forgotten becomes a picture of God’s redeeming power. Like a reupholstered rocking chair or handmade piece of recycled paper, God can take the wadded-up parts of our lives—the failures or hurts we toss aside and try to forget—and make them into something new, something masterful.
In Him, we can experience beauty in brokenness and see redemption in the wreckage. We don’t have to be slaves to bitterness, because if we cry out to Him, He enters the mess with us. God redeems the damage and recreates it into His masterpiece. We become His walking work of art.
“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand. . .” (Jeremiah 18:6)