Reclaim. Refurbish. Renovate. Repurpose. Sounds quaint, right? Thanks, HGTV. That old abandoned home is really a diamond in the rough. All it takes is a little elbow grease and fresh paint. They make it look so easy. I knew better, but in a moment of weakness I succumbed.
A few years ago, my wife and I bought a farmhouse. We reclaimed, refurbished, renovated, and repurposed for months . . . and months . . . and months. What started as quaint quickly became a quagmire. We had to overcome years of shortcuts and surprises and scars and skeletons we didn’t know existed until we started pealing off layers of old.
Truth: Making old things look new is only easy on television.
Though I barely survived with my sanity, my wife relished every minute of it. From the beginning she had a clear vision of what could be, what would be. Her focus was on the finished product; mine was on the problems. Where she saw progress, I was worn out by the process.
What would cause relatively sane and sensible people to throw good, hard earned money after an out-of-date and out-of-style farmhouse? Turns out that breathing life into something others are ready to discard is quite rewarding.
The farmhouse project is complete. The finished product gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. We somehow turned a dilapidated home into something of great value by reclaiming, refurbishing, renovating, and repurposing the foundation that already existed. A project that only happened because my wife could see the value of the finished product before we even started.
You would think after such a big project I too would come to see the value in old things. I haven’t. I don’t. I speak from a growing amount of experience. Turns out in my wife’s eyes nothing is ever too old or too worn out to throw out.
One particular example is hard to escape. It had an inauspicious beginning but has become a fixture of our home and the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration. It’s the story of the broken screen door.
The farmhouse project had many subplots, smaller projects that seemed to take a life of their own. One such project required tearing down a 100-year-old barn that had collapsed. The easy thing to do (dare I say the best thing to do) would be to simply torch it. Burn that sucker to the ground. Not so fast. Instead we painstakingly saved every board. OK, even I know the value of old barn wood. But surely we didn’t need old tires, rusted tools and nails and certainly not an old, broken screen door.
Well, what do ‘ya know. Months later I found that screen door. She had saved it; hidden it. Out of frustration I . . . spoke. What are you doing keeping this old thing? I’m throwing it out.
I shouldn’t have spoken. Not only were we not going to throw it out; we were going to hang it in our house! What? The frame is broken. The paint is chipped. The screen is torn. Why would we waste money fixing it. For once she agreed with me. She didn’t want to fix it. Good, I thought.
No, she had another idea for that screen door. She wanted to hang it as it was – broken, chipped and torn. I did what I knew I had to do. To this day, that broken screen door hangs in our living room. And each Christmas it moves to the mantle where it becomes the centerpiece of our Christmas decorations. I love that screen door and proudly share its story with all who visit our home.
Well maybe I should back up and fill in the blank. How did I go from wanting to torch it to loving it? What changed. Well, that old screen door didn’t change. I did. In my frustration my wife calmly and emotionally changed my perspective of that broken screen door.
She shared that when she sees that door she sees herself – broken and useless. We are all like that screen door. We are broken. We are chipped and torn. In our current state we are useless. But there is hope in our brokenness. There is one who came to rescue us from the rubble.
Jesus was born because we are broken, sinful people condemned to the rubbish pile. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
But God loves us and sees value in you and me. He can see the finished product. Just like that farmhouse – we were condemned. But God sees value in the condemned and stands ready to reclaim, refurbish, renovate and repurpose. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Instead of being tossed in the fire, the broken screen door now serves as a reminder to our family that though we are broken and useless, God doesn’t throw us out. He still loves us and receives us just as we are. But he doesn’t leave us that way. He transforms us. That’s the story of Christmas.
I’m thankful for that broken screen door. I deserve to be thrown out, tossed aside. Instead I have been saved – reclaimed, refurbished, renovated, and repurposed. This is the story of the gospel through the lens of a broken screen door.
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