I’ve found the beauty of God’s redeeming work through the art of reclaimed wood.
It started with discovering a pile of discarded dock wood alongside the road in our neighborhood. I texted my husband who came to help me take it home. We used that wood to build a large dining table for the back patio, a bench for our front porch, another bench to give away, and a coffee table for our deck. (Word to the wise: when sanding wood that’s been submerged in water for decades, wear a mask. No one wants to breathe in the smell of fish.)
That dock wood wasn’t the only discarded treasure in our neighborhood. Soon we found other items—an old mirror, an end table, more dock wood. We are known as “the people who will take old stuff.” To them it might be junk. To us, it’s a work of art waiting to happen.
I’ve always been inclined toward creative pursuits; writing, photography, poetry, theater. I love to influence and impact others. I love to see the moment when my creative expression engages someone’s imagination, touches their heart.
Reclaiming old wood projects was not a way I ever anticipated using this creative inclination. For 13 years we lived overseas in megacities where places to sand and stain were elusive. But I’ve found this form of art engaging because of how it parallels God’s work in our lives.
I love to look at a piece of wood and imagine what we could do with it. It might be worthless to someone else, but I see its potential. It takes time, patience, sweat, and elbow grease to transform it. Through much of the process, it doesn’t look better than it did before.
In the end, it’s not perfect. That’s not my goal. The goal is to make it beautiful and purposeful in a new way. The inevitable cracks and dings are part of its story. They reveal character and experience that make it unique. The perfection is found in it being exactly what I wanted it to be.
Each piece we make reminds me of God’s redemptive purposes toward us. He sees where we are, but He always sees what we could be, what we will be, what He intended for us to be. He is patient with us (usually far more patient that we are!). Our growth and transformation happen in His time and His ways.
Along the way it can be hard to see what He’s doing with us. But He never loses sight of His vision. He sees what we cannot. He makes us beautiful and purposeful in new ways, leaving behind the old.
Whatever failings or flaws we have, whatever feels wasted or unredeemable to us, He loves. He restores shalom. It doesn’t mean we don’t bear the scars, but the scars are evidence of His restoration power. They show where He has been at work and His ability to make things new. We are perfect when we are exactly who He wants us to be.
When I spend time on these projects, I get lost in them. It becomes a form of prayer, of communing with God. It becomes a place of solitude and rest. I’m using my gifts to create something new and beautiful, an imitation of the creative work of our Maker. I feel God’s pleasure, not only in me using the talents He has given me to restore something, but in my contemplation of how the process mirrors what He does in me. In us. It reminds me that He is always in the business of restoration and redemption.
Doing it together with my husband feels right as well. He brings his engineering expertise to precise measurements and solid construction while I come in behind him to decide colors, stains, paint, and finish. We couldn’t do it without each other—we each bring our own gifting and help bring this beautiful creation to life. There’s something about the body working together in creative pursuits that mirrors the creative power of God and gives us an outlet to be like Him.
As I write this, my husband is in the garage doing his part in our latest creation from old wood. Soon what was old pallet wood and a discarded door will be a piece of furniture to serve our guest room. We were made to create, and we were made for redemption. I love engaging in this pursuit that unites the two.