An Old-One-Fixer-Upper God
by Pastor George Van Alstine

A great divide between people shows up in how they respond when something breaks. Some individuals immediately think about buying a new one. Others concentrate, rather, on fixing the old one. Often you’ll find a new-one-buyer and an old-one-fixer-upper married to each other. Talk about conflict!

New-one-buyers have to face the fact that they may have to spend a considerable bit of money, but they feel good about this because they’ll enjoy the pleasure of something new. Old-one-fixer-uppers may have to spend some time analyzing the problem, finding parts, etc., but they’ll have the satisfaction of spending a lot less money and they seem to get as much pleasure out of seeing a fixed-up old thing as the new-one-buyer does from the new thing.

I am terminally, incurably, uncompromising an old-one-fixer-upper! I can’t help myself. I think if I owned the first-ever horse-drawn wagon, I’d still be driving a patched-up version of it, rather than ever adapting to a car. I blame the fact that my parents were married during the Depression. Did I say “blame”? I meant “credit.”

New-one-buyers think they have the Bible on their side. They refer to Creation, when God spoke into being all the “new” wonders of the universe, as described in the “six days” of Genesis 1. But they tend to overlook an interesting expression at the beginning of that chapter:

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters.”

This is strange: How could God create something that was “without form and void (empty)”? Some Bible scholars think this indicates an earlier phase of creation that somehow got out of kilter. If this has some truth to it, then God’s challenge was not creating entirely out of nothing, but bringing order from chaos. Not “buying” a new universe, but fixing up an old one.

When God sent his Son into the world to begin a “new creation,” he did not start from scratch. He didn’t throw away this old broken-down world and all of its broken-down, sinful people. He could have created a whole new race of perfect humans; why mess with the old? But he chose to take us, though we were “without form and void,” twisted caricatures of his image, and one-by-one, untwist us into usefulness.

Yes, my God is an old-one-fixer-upper! I’m eternally grateful that he chose not to throw me on the dump heap, but rather to shape me and fill me so that I would no longer be “without form and void.”