Many years ago, when I was in college, I took classes at two different campuses: Saint Vincent College in Latrobe and Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. I commuted between the two campuses in my Karman Ghia convertible along a scenic country road which was dotted with a few houses situated on rolling green hills. On one of those days, I observed a spot along the route where someone had begun to pile up what looked like junk; a piece of lumber here, a window there, maybe a door or other odd building materials lying about. As months rolled by, I would occasionally see a middle-aged man dressed in an unexceptional way, steadily pushing a wheelbarrow filled with more junk up the hill or perhaps cleaning the mortar off old bricks or just organizing his heaps of what appeared to be junk. It piled up over a period of time to become quite a collection. I recall feeling a little resentful of this man and his ad hoc junk yard. It was a real eyesore along an otherwise green and peaceful road. This irreverent treatment of the landscape lasted for many months, maybe a year.
I cannot recall the total amount of time that elapsed, but what seemed like a random junkyard began to take a definite shape and purpose. One heap became a few categorized heaps, and, to my great surprise, a foundation for a small house slowly emerged from the ground. I watched over some period of time while cleaned, recycled bricks became walls; discarded doors and windows were refinished and installed to fit perfectly into what emerged from the heap to became a house! That house still stands these many years later. The builder took what seemed to be a useless heap and repurposedit to become a habitation. So, it is with all of us.
It has become popular to repurposeitems ranging from old furniture to picture frames, farm tools and any number of other items. To be repurposed is to infuse unused or obsolete objects with new purpose. There have been TV programs devoted to decorating homes with repurposed articles. Supposed obsolete artifacts are reclaimed and seen in a new light. An old farm plow might become a decoration on someone’s front lawn. Repurposed or reclaimed lumber from a dilapidated barn might be used to build new furniture or decorate an accent wall of a new home. Not only are these items repurposed pieces environmentally responsible, they bring character and depth to their new environment.
New purpose is found in artifacts of our personal past, perhaps a few buried in the sands of wandering in our own personal wilderness. Our heaps of old stuff can become a habitation for the presence of God just as with the man who repurposed old building materials into a house. What is needed is that we place these artifacts at the feet of God for transformation and repurposing. God has made it possible for us to become new creations in Christ, or maybe we could say repurposedin Christ. New life and possibilities are coming (see 2 Cor 5:17).
We all have aspects of our lives that seem to have outlived their original purpose, even flops and failures along our way. They in fact, can become our redemptive resumé. In our ministry of formational counseling and spiritual direction, we have sought to bring people to an understanding of who they truly are. Part of that ministry is to help those to whom we minister to take inventory of all the steps that led up to their present season and show them that God can redeem and repurpose even the worst trauma. For example, pain can become compassion—losses can become other’s gain. A person who grew up in a household of addiction might become an empathetic agent of encouragement and recovery. Whatever the issue, we have come to know that God is a repurposingGod who turns trauma into triumph, failure into freedom, or pain into power.
In this writing we will explore and define the repurposing of our lives. Aspects and events of our lives that seem to lack value will become powerful tools in God when released to the feet of God for Him to transform and empower. More than anything else, our repurposed life will become the evidence of the amazing and redeeming grace of God. So, take your staff in hand and begin the journey of the repurposingof your life to become a habitation for God.
The following chapters will unfold the repurposing graceof God in the lives of ordinary and imperfect people just like us. The pages are dotted with stories from real people along the road of their own journey much like the country road and rolling hills where the heap became a habitation. We will take inventory of our own lives and see foundations of hope filled with new possibilities as we find A Life Repurposed.