Repurposing With Purpose

Thanks to the popularity of home renovation/DIY shows from HGTV and other networks (anyone else out there addicted?), there’s been a resurgence of interest in reusing materials. We call it ‘repurposing’ and it’s caught on with people from all demographics. Repurposing involves reusing materials for purposes other than their original function. Plumbing pipe used to make trendy book shelves, pallets broken down and their boards fashioned into Adirondack chairs, you get the picture. Repurposing has turned into a movement and the resourceful human spirit is on full display with people showcasing some pretty amazing creations. My wife and I even climbed aboard the bandwagon and have churned out a few projects of our own.

One that stands out had an unlikely beginning buried deep in our drywall. Those of you who’ve lived through the purgatory of a home renovation project know the chaos it brings to your life. A few years ago, we added some square footage onto the back of the first floor of our home and in the process learned a few lessons the hard way. As part of the project, the back wall of our dining room area was knocked out and a huge beam that had previously helped support the second floor was no longer needed. So into the backyard it went along with a bunch of other debris from the demo. Even through the cleanup phase this massively thick 12 foot long beam lay outside in the dirt for months, through sun and rain. We could have easily had it hauled away as refuse but instead my wife and I discussed what else we could do with it? Eventually we settled on the idea of cutting it down to size (thank God for friends with chainsaws, right?) and mounting it above our fireplace as a mantel. So with a healthy dose of DIY-fueled inspiration, I began to work on this beam, determined to give it a new life and purpose. From pulling bent nails, sanding, distressing and more sanding, I progressed to staining it and applying the poly. In a matter of days this beam was a beautiful finished product, unrecognizable from the hunk of raw wood that previously lay outside on the ground for all of those months.

Repurposing isn’t limited to inanimate objects, people too can be repurposed. Not long ago a visiting missionary spoke at a church we were attending and described what life was like as an American missionary in Indonesia. He had only recently begun his ministry as a missionary, and although not elderly, he wasn’t a young man either. He had already enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a professor of Theology here in the U.S. when an opportunity emerged for him and his wife to uproot their established lives and move 10,000 miles away to a foreign land. Most folks I know wouldn’t exactly be doing somersaults at this idea (actually, most folks I know can’t do somersaults). As he spoke to us about their decision to move in this radical new direction, he stated that God sometimes “repurposes” us.

This crazy life has a way of taking twists & turns that we never could have foreseen; can I get a witness out there? Maybe you’re in a time of repurposing, and exploring a new career, relationship or simply trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life while also juggling all the existing demands upon it? An open mind and a little faith can help set us on a path toward that ultimate destination in life that God has intended for us. He specializes in repurposing, even telling us in the scriptures “Behold, I make all things new”. I have a hunch that sometimes what we may label as ‘repurposing’ is merely God’s purpose for us being manifested as we progress through this life.

Change is usually uncomfortable and we tend to avoid it. However, it could be the very key to unlocking a new and exciting chapter in your life’s story. Like that old beam in our house, many people are toiling away in their current station, buried in the drywall (not literally!) and bearing the unrelenting weight of a heavy load. Or, conversely, perhaps you’re comfortably coasting along, content in the life you are building. Yet sometimes the chief architect of our lives draws up a set of ‘renovation’ plans for us and we find ourselves thrust into new roles and responsibilities that lay beyond our comfort zone. Like our modest house, some of us could use a little ‘square footage’ added to our lives. Maybe a new connection, learning a new skill or some other fresh challenge?

Warning: personal progress usually brings disruption to our status quo. As a result of our first floor addition, that perfectly good beam suddenly found itself out of a job and laying in the dirt with no great prospects. Yet this was not the end of the road, rather it was only the beginning of its transformation from an inconspicuous existence of bearing continual stresses to eventually being the finished showpiece of our living room! Sure, it involved a little ‘cutting down to size’ along with a lot of sanding work on those rough edges, but I’d say repurposing worked out pretty good for that hunk of wood and it can for us as well. So the next time a new set of plans rolls off the divine drafting table for you, try keeping an open mind and you just might find new purpose in your repurposing.


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