I have spent the better part of a week painting objects found at the thrift store, alongside the road, and tucked inside of barns and storage sheds. No longer wanted or needed by their owners, these things have been cast-off and forgotten. But Susan, a volunteer at Liebenzell USA, saw their potential. She has taken the old furniture, picture frames, and lamps and breathed new life into them then using them to create inviting spaces for visitors to the Guest House. She is very good at it. Lucky me. Not only have I experienced the spaces she has decorated in my own apartment, but I feel like I have been on a DIY/Fixer Upper retreat over these past ten days. Mission work is rarely boring and this time has been no exception. It has been so fun to work alongside Susan creating something beautiful.
As usual, God does not just allow my hands and feet the joy of service. He also whispers a lesson to my heart as well. As of late, I have been reading in Ephesians and chapter 2 starts like this:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:1
How? There is a whole list of reasons that follow in verses 2 and 3. (Read here for yourself.)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5
Sounds a little like those cast-offs Susan has found. Junk really, ready for the trash heap, but she stopped to look and considered the beauty they could bring. God does the same. He finds us where we are, messed up from worldly living and feeling good for nothing, but because of His great love for us, he gave us new life.
I can attest to this myself. Those who knew me before the upcycle will tell you the same. God’s great mercy has transformed me. It’s His personal touch that has made all the difference in my life. He took me from dead in my worldly lifestyle to alive in Christ and how amazing that change has been. No longer do I feel worn out, used up, and hopeless. I live with joy and confidence knowing I am valued by God. This is what He does for us.
But there is more. We not only have a new life, we have been raised up with Christ so that others can see the beauty of the incomparable riches of God’s grace, expressed in His kindness to us. (Ephesians 2:6-7)
One thing to remember when considering this passage of Scripture: We did not have the ability to upcycle ourselves. It was God. He saw the potential and He did the work. It wasn’t we who made the change. Even our faith to trust His work is a gift to us.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God—not of works that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
As it should be, God should get the glory. That is what our lives should be about anyway, making God known to those around us. We have the potential to make this life following God appealing and beautiful. Let Him make it so. He has the best plans when it comes to upcycling. He makes us something entirely new.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Our time serving at Liebenzell USA has been wonderful. We have met so many great people and helped in a small part to create a place of sanctuary for visiting mission workers, churches, and other various groups. This a beautiful place to retreat and we are thankful for our time here.
A few pics of the Guest Houses.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. ” Jeremiah 29:11