One Man’s Trash…

One Man’s Trash…

One Man’s Trash…. 

Chevrolet was the truck of preference for my dad.  He spoke highly of the brand’s reliability and took pride in owning an American-made vehicle.

Pick-up trucks are the transportation of choice for the majority of men in the South, young and old.  After a hard rain, young men gather up their friends, head to a muddy, empty field, and spend the rest of the afternoon mud ridin’ in their pickups.  Others purchase a pickup and begin the tedious process of jackin’-it-up, monster-truck style.  Outdoor sportsmen enjoy the pick-up truck’s ability to transport huntin’ and fishin’ equipment, while some ramp up their ATV’s into the truck’s bed for easy transport.

Daddy’s partiality for the pickup rested strictly in its ability to haul home a lot of junk after a long day of junkin’.

After the excitement of door knockin’ (literally knocking on the doors of houses with potential junkin’ treasure) the reveal of the sought-after treasure was typically anticlimactic for me.  Picturing a beautiful, pottery-filled corner cupboard in the living room, I became confused when my dad and I were directed through the owner’s house and outside again to an old storage shed in the back yard.  Later, I learned this is a good sign for a junker.  If the desired pieces sit lovingly in the owner’s home, the price to negotiate a sale is higher.  If, however, the item has been scrapped to a storage shed, barn, or other off-site location, the bid for its purchase is usually much lower.

Though my disorientation and disappointment increased when we arrived at the decrepit shed, my dad’s anticipation peaked.  Stepping inside the dimly lit unit, Daddy’s metamorphosis commenced.  I watched in wonder as his breathing increased, his eyes became sharp and focused, and his hand released its grip on mine, momentarily unaware of my presence.  Turning his head side-to-side, scanning the room, I instantly knew when he spotted the cupboard.  Like a dog on the scent of its quarry, my dad moved in a single direction, stepping around and over everything in his path, undeterred.

When he arrived in front of the cupboard, he began the inspection process.  As he opened doors, checked hinges, noted markings, and tapped wood, he mentally tallied the defects on the discarded antique.  Broken hinge, lopsided door, rotting wood, each would bring a negotiated deduction off the asking price.

Skillfully, though, Daddy also noted the makings of an antique collectible:  dovetailed drawers, crown and dental molding, square-headed nails, and dowels (all signs of hand craftsmanship).  Age:  musty smelling interior, sold-wood construction (poplar, walnut and maple to name a few), and distinctive tool marks.  Originality:  mismatched hardware and slightly separated corner seams.  Value:  a signature or other marking which could lead to the identification of the cupboard’s creator.

Pokerfaced, hiding his excitement, Daddy highlighted all of the problems with the piece and made the man an offer.  With a quick nod and firm handshake, the man’s trash became our treasure.

God is our creator; we are all children of an Almighty Father.  Just as the craftsman’s passion guided the tools which transformed a piece of wood into a beautiful cupboard, we are lovingly designed by God.  Isaiah sees the creation of man by God as a work of art.  “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).  We are affectionately formed by the hands of God.

Earlier in the book of Isaiah, God identifies himself as our creator when He commands, “Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth—Everyone whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43: 6-7).  God glories in our existence as His sons and daughters, even if we become distanced from Him.

It’s difficult to return to something we’ve neglected or abandoned.  I feared the hypocrisy of my decision to restart a relationship with God after I walked away from Him for a season. What would people say?  How would God perceive me?

I know some of you feel doubtful.  You still question your worthiness.  You know the life you’ve led, the mistakes you’ve made, the unbelief you’ve harbored, and you fear God’s reaction.  Perhaps you’re already saved, but you’ve tempered your relationship with God.  You’re not going to church as often, you’ve stopped praying, you’ve often forgotten God in the chaos of your day.  Maybe you’re afraid you’re not living up to God’s expectations.  Fear is paralyzing.

Yet fear should never prevent us from returning to God:  “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’” (Isaiah 43:1).  God longs for our return because there is great attachment to anything formed out of love.

David captures God’s intimate knowledge of us, His children; knowledge gleaned during the process of our creation.

David proclaims,

O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.

Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;

Thou dost understand my thoughts from afar.

Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,

And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.

Even before there is a word on my tongue,

Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.

Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,

And laid Thy hand upon me,

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is too high, I cannot attain to it. (Psalm 139: 1-6)

God knows when we go to sleep and when we wake up.  He comprehends our thoughts.  He hears our words before they are uttered from our lips.  God is “intimately acquainted” with our unique personalities; He is aware of every quirk, eccentricity, peculiarity, and whimsy.  Nothing shocks God.

He truly knows us better than we know ourselves because his acquaintance with each of us begins before conception: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5).  This statement boggles the human mind.  It’s one of the Biblical wonders which confirms God’s sovereignty.  He knows us before He forms us–that’s awesomely mind blowing!

Instead of running from the one who knows us best, we need to run to Him.  Sweaty, stinky, disheveled–it doesn’t matter; God opens His arms to us because we are His.

Although the storms of life mar the beauty of His creation, we never become unrecognizable to God.  Like the abandoned cupboard in the corner of that shed, we may return to God damaged, displaying the defects of a broken spirit, shame-filled heart, or calloused outlook.  Remember though, when we see ourselves as unsalvageable, God recognizes all the markings of a treasure.

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