July 16, 2007

€œTreasures from Junk€?
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn

Early last Saturday morning the Ghana Team along with a few friends set up for our yard sale to benefit the Amazing Grace School in Ghana. By 7:00 AM we had set up rows of tables, pulled out all the stand-alone items, and we were ready for business. The clutter that had filled the entire sanctuary the day before was now displayed on our lawn. I surveyed the scene, and felt overwhelmed by the surging sea of junk (some of which was mine!). Who would ever buy this stuff? But hordes of people came throughout the morning, and as they paid for their items individually, I found myself saying, “Oh, that’s nice. That’s a keeper. What a great find.â€? Separated from the surrounding mounds of stuff, I began to see the individual treasures that attracted their eye.

We are currently preaching a sermon series on the parables of Jesus. I wondered, as I stepped back to watch, whether Jesus would have used a yard sale as the setting for one of his parables, if he’d lived in the twenty-first century. It seemed to me, as I looked at the avid yard sale shoppers, that God is very much like a woman at a yard sale in these important ways:

1) God is not thrown off by the immense clutter of humanity, but is able to search out each person individually. Each one of us is seen for who we are.

2) None of us catches God’s eye when we are in pristine, prime condition. By the time we recognize our need for God, we’re in various stages of “junky-ness.â€? Some of us are more battered and used up than others, but all of us have been tarnished by the wear and tear of sin. We all are in need of a lot of repair and a lot of love to bring us back to our original condition.

3) There is no such thing as trash to God. As we were preparing for the yard sale, I wondered if some of the things we put out would be better thrown out in the dumpster instead. They were just taking up valuable space. Who would want such a thing? But to God, no one is broken beyond repair. In every piece of junk, God sees the treasure, the potential. In his mind’s eye, he can see the perfect place where that piece fits, where it is needed and therefore valuable. Each of us is wanted by God.

God’s ability to search for us individually, to perceive the hidden treasure in us, and to repair our brokenness is cause for great hope. One of my favorite passages in the Bible looks forward to the final newness and perfection that is our future as sons and daughters of God. And not only us, but all of creation as well:
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.â€? Romans 8:19-21

God’s awesome power to bring something new out of something old is cause for rejoicing! And in typical God fashion, he extravagantly renews not only his human creation, but the whole of creation as well. It’s all right if you yell a “Yippee!â€? right now. It’s praise that God deserves.

And on a final note, all that junk on Saturday was indeed of value to the shoppers who collectively gave us $1,509.32 to send on to the Amazing Grace School—to me a modern day parable of treasure from junk.