y daughter, Dana Townsend, uses her imagination and creative talents to transform dilapidated, scratched or discarded chairs, tables, book shelves, window frames, fences, etc. into beautiful “repurposed” furniture. For example, she linked the backs and seats of two kitchen chairs, colorfully refreshed with new paint and bright cushions, to become a settee.
Early each morning I sit at a small, round pedestal table in my sun room that Dana refurbished for me. Too small for family dining, but too large for an end table, it serves a greater purpose as a sacred place for me to spend time with God and to study His word. The original repurposer of mankind, God’s greatest transformational act is moving people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light through a saving faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit then begins a major restorative project, the interior remodeling of repurposed lives.
Not all of Dana’s salvaged pieces fit well, so she often deviates from her original intention to a better plan. This reminds me that Scripture often highlights God’s “better plan” to transform intentional negative actions into outcomes for good.
Remember the dreamer Joseph, who, favored by his father but hated by his brothers, was sold into slavery to Ishmaelites going to Egypt. He survived tumultuous trials and years later was appointed “governor” of Egypt. During widespread famine, his brothers, who came from Canaan to buy grain, were terrified of retribution when Joseph later revealed his identity to them. God’s great repurposing of this situation is reflected in Joseph’s words: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 50: 20) God’s principle “not to return evil for evil” but to do what is right becomes a repeated message. (Rom. 12: 17)
A New Testament story of God’s repurposing grace occurs while Jesus and his disciples are eating at the table of Simon the leper. Mary of Bethany enters the “males only” setting, breaks an alabaster jar and pours expensive perfume on Jesus’ head. Some are critical of the waste of more than a year’s wages which could have benefited the poor. Jesus, however, validates her action as a beautiful thing. She has done what she could to honor Him and “to prepare for his burial,” a point which seems to be lost on the complainers. Jesus elevates her choice by assuring her that “where the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14: 8-9)
As usual, the simple picture of Dana’s repurposing of furniture has taught me an important spiritual truth.
The Bible is clear that we are called by God to live “on purpose” for Him. Our primary calling is to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12: 30-31) On our journey of faith, however, we may come to places where God repurposes our vocational direction, our geographical situation, our gifts and talents, or the people or places with whom or in which we interact. We may not always see the usefulness of His “repurposing” at the time, but we must simply trust the author of the plan.
Dr. Anita Schamber is a Volunteers of America commissioned minister.