One of my favorite me-time activities is sipping tea while mulling over home decorating books (or more recently Pinterest).
None hold my interest quite like those written by interior designers that are half artist, half junk-hound. The last decade has seen an absolute explosion of the DIY repurposing of the most unlikely objects into unique and useful decorating pieces.
One of my all-time favorite books on the subject was written by Rachel Ashwell, a designer whose pioneering work defined the style known as Shabby Chic. One of many inspiring photos in the book shows Rachel milling around a flea market in search of her next find.
It takes a keen eye to successfully navigate a flea market. Wading through piles of tattered and mismatched odds and ends is not for everyone. Only the individual able to recognize the promise of ‘what could be’ sees the treasure hidden in a piece of junk. The same item deemed worthless by one person is a potential work of art to another. The difference is vision.
Value is not an inherent quality. It is a subjective attribute. The value of a flea-market object is ultimately determined by the price one is willing to pay to purchase it —and the time and effort one is willing to invest in salvaging it.
God is in the business of reclamation. He specializes in salvaging broken people. The value He has assigned to each of us is clearly evident in the price that was paid to redeem us. Yet unlike a flea market find that has some redeeming quality waiting to be revealed with a bit of elbow grease, there is nothing in us that is deserving of God’s love or grace.
There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one. Romans 3:9-12
Some like to frame the act of redemption as though God had the smarts to recognize our value. The flaw in that thinking is the implication that it was our inherent worth that nailed Jesus to the cross rather than our sin, that somehow we were deserving of His grace. Scripture boldly assures us that is not the case. We are told in Romans 3 that we are born spiritually defective and without hope. Worse yet, nothing we could ever do could make us worthy. We simply haven’t the capacity.
So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Matthew 7:17-18
There is a difference between a fixer upper and a lost cause. All of our self-righteous efforts to spit shine and polish ourselves will never mask our true nature. It is impossible for man, on his own, to metamorphose into something good. We are in need of more than a renovation. We must be made brand new. That is what makes God’s love for us so astounding.
To recognize the hopelessness of our plight without Christ is not to demean our worth, but rather to elevate Him to His rightful place as our merciful Deliverer.
He saw us with perfect and holy eyes and said, “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). God saw no ‘good’ in us, no potential for ‘self-actualization’ no hope for ‘self-enlightenment’. And yet, for some incomprehensible reason, He chose to pay the highest price possible for our redemption.
We are told that “while we were yet sinners” Christ died for us. Jesus came to this sinful earth full of ‘junk’ because He desires to transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit, into a thing of eternal value and beauty. We are lavishly robed in the fine linen of His royal garments of the King of kings.
He has healed our brokenness and made us perfect through His love. He calls us His beautiful, spotless, Beloved. We are His masterpiece, crafted by grace and cherished beyond imagining.
Thank you Lord for paying the price required to redeem me from the junk heap. By Your grace alone, I am becoming everything I was intended to be, because You are the designer of my destiny.
Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell (Harper Collins, 1996)
A Touch of Farmhouse Charm by Liz Fourez (Page Street Publishing, 2016)
Romantic Prairie Style by Fifi O’Neill (Cico Books, 2011)