Youth camp can impact you for a large portion of your life. It can change your life.
A handful of well-intentioned words of warning at a youth camp in my teens have left me with a wound that has festered for most of my adult life.
My pain has not been wasted. The thorn left under my skin, rubbing me the wrong way, swelling with inflammation when I dared to forget it existed, humbling me lest I become proud, bringing me back to my knees asking for Jesus’ lavish mercy to cleanse me and comfort me … it has helped me see the pain in others. Helped me try to remember to temper my words with grace, His grace. His bountiful, unending, matchless grace that can cover a multitude … nay … every sin.
But this morning in His immeasurable, complete, and compassionate mercy a seed God had planted long before bloomed into healing beauty before my eyes. I don’t think I have ever felt more clearly that He loves me. He sees me. He hears my prayers. He knows my pain. He cares that I have suffered.
God can redeem anything. ANYTHING. Nothing is beyond His influence. He who hardens the hearts of pagan world leaders (Exodus 7:13), brings the dead to life (John 11:43) … I can trust that same God to recover a careless, scare-tactic attempt at behavior modification by fear meant for teens.
I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but I know I was 15 or older. I remember the room at the camp where the preaching took place with icy, crystalline clarity. It’s hard to forget where you were when hopelessness crushed your spirit.
“You’re like used furniture - without value, worthless. Nobody wants to buy used furniture.”
How the enemy has belittled me with those words time and time and time again. Like an ugly, scratched and outdated credenza or the faded, stained couch on the side of the highway that probably smells like vomit. Broken, unwanted, distasteful.
In my shame I didn’t tell anyone. To their credit there were friends and family around me who would have wept alongside me and reminded me of the truth … that I am a child of THE KING. That He is Go’alenu me’olam, Our Redeemer from of old … nothing is a surprise to Him; there is nothing He can’t repurpose for His purpose.
Today in Sunday School (yes we still call it that) we’ve been slowly going through the War Room Bible study, and there, at the bottom of page 51, was the seed God planted for me. An excerpt from “A Touch of His Freedom” by Dr. Charles Stanley:
“…Christian transformation, like RESTORING OLD FURNITURE, is a two-stage process. First, one must take off the old. Then you have a clean slate to put on the new.”
In the hands of the Master (y’all, JESUS WAS A CARPENTER), old, used furniture can be made into something valuable and beautiful. A one-of-a-kind creation full of character that brings usefulness, joy, pleasure to the family it was meant for.
We are never too far gone. Though consequences may be far reaching, there is NOTHING that is beyond His reach. Never let anyone tell you differently. Jesus didn’t die just to save us, He died to REDEEM us. To buy us back from Satan, full price. You are valuable to Him.
Furniture restoration photos courtesy of Eclectic Home Boutique in Houston, Texas