There’s a few pieces of wood from my family farm in East Texas that have found new life as my coffee table. We tore down the barn years ago, but decided to keep the wood to reclaim and reuse it for something different. It has occurred to me as I rack my brain for 2018 resolutions that maybe what I need is not to take on something new, but to reclaim what is already there - regardless of how worn out, distressed or too-far-gone it might seem.
Reclaiming the wood from the barn was a process with many steps and stages. The barn was close to 100 years old, and the wood did not look like it was even usable. We first had to power wash each board to get off the dirt, bugs and grim. Watching the dirt run out of the wood was mesmerizing. The process washed away the things that were unwanted and unneeded, but left the stains, lines and jagged edges that told a family story of a place that was built to take on tough storms, dry spells and difficult seasons.
In reclaiming this old wood, we saw the potential for something old; not just to be made new, but to be made purposeful, persistent and strong once again. Reclaiming can help us to see how God is never really done with the parts of our life that seem damaged, worn out, or tossed aside. When we resolve to reclaim these pieces of our lives, we are able to regain the purpose, persistence and power that God has given to us.
As I turned the calendar to January and faced the first week of 2018, my mind was brought back to that powerful scripture from Isaiah 43: “Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (vs. 18) That question of what is ‘seen’ reminded me of Thomas, who is often referred to as ‘doubting Thomas’ in Scripture. After the resurrection, when Jesus appears to the disciples, it is not enough for Thomas to see Jesus; he wants to see his scars from death. It was not enough to see something brand new; Thomas needed to know that it was still the same Jesus who walked through pain and suffering and had the scars to prove it.
Jesus’ story in and of itself is a story of reclaiming; reclaiming hope, identity and a different way for our faith to be made present and purposeful not in spite of, but out of and even in the midst of the struggles and suffering that life can bring.
In 2018, can you make a resolution to reclaim something in your life? Something you think is lost, broken, jagged, splintered, or even beyond repair? In the reclaiming, may we draw closer to the God that will never toss us aside, and cling to an active faith that find its purpose, persistence and strength in the love and hope of Jesus, the sacred and risen Christ.
I am so eager to begin this new year with each of you. We are starting a new sermon series this Sunday called Dream On, where we will talk about the vision that God has for our lives and for the Access Community. Join me as we get below the surface and eagerly work toward the dreams that God has in store for all of us in 2018.
See you Sunday!