Over the years, I’ve had a couple of friends whose hobbies included renovating older cars. They didn’t care that they were broken down refugees from a junkyard whose former glory had long since faded. The fact that their market value had diminished along with everything else only added to the attraction for my renovation-minded friends. They didn’t care that the engine wouldn’t start, that nothing was bright and shiny anymore, that there were dents here and there, or that the faded paint had allowed some rust to bleed through. If the upholstery was torn and holes had been worn in the carpet, it didn’t matter. The defects seemed to touch a chord in their hearts and stir some kind of “mechanical compassion” that served to make the worn out old cars even more desirable.
More than a Car ~
These guys were willing to invest untold hours of time, unreasonable amounts of money, and incalculable volumes of mental, emotional, and physical energy in their determination to restore some old machine, not just to its original condition, but to make it better than it ever was. I’ll never forget the look on the face of one of the guys as he pulled the protective cover off his “baby”. The show of pride could not have been more evident if one of his children had discovered a cure for cancer or won an Olympic Gold Medal. Seeing the nearly completed product was pretty special, but it was even more intriguing as I watched him and listened to the excitement in his voice as he narrated “her” story. The car was definitely more than a car now. She was a mechanical novel to be read, a love story to be told about a man and his machine. It was a tale replete with mysteries to be solved, obstacles to be overcome, disappointments to be endured, and a price to be paid. But to the rebuilder, the climax was worth it all. Going into the endeavor, he knew all along that “redemption” was never going to be cheap and easy.
Looking back, the old relic had appeared to be at the end of her last journey on the day my friend found her. The sleek, shining, and powerful impression she made in the beginning was a dim and distant memory now. There were no more exciting road trips in her future, no more heart pounding acceleration, and no more hours of speeding down an open highway on some new adventure. Those days were over. At that point, she was just another broken down, rejected, virtually worthless relic destined to become scrap metal, and helpless to do anything about it. Then a guy came along who looked at her and saw beyond what she was. He saw what she could be and decided that she was worth transforming. As I listened to my buddy talk about her in personal terms and describe how bad she looked when he found her, I couldn’t help identifying with her and thinking about the One who found me like that.
The Miles Make a Difference ~
We’re certainly not mechanical devices, but like my friend’s car, most of us begin our trek through life looking bright, strong, appealing, and ready for whatever adventures might come our way. We feel powerful and ready to take on the challenges. We might feel invincible in the early years, but eventually the miles begin to pile up and things change. Collisions happen that leave us wounded, and unexpected breakdowns come along. Key components begin to fail, and in spite of repairs, our engine no longer produces the confident roar that once turned heads. Even if we’re blessed with a few touch ups here and there, the handwriting is on the wall, and . . . “the end is in sight”. Short of a total transformation and a whole new beginning, hell’s scrap heap is waiting.
Just as my car enthusiast friend saw his future “baby” differently, God’s appraisal is also formed from a different perspective. Our dents and defects don’t distort His vision or cause Him to look away . . . quite the opposite. He remembers our original design and what we were intended to be. He looks at us through the blood of Jesus’ cross and sees a classic worth redeeming. He undertakes a transformation project in every one of us that unlocks astounding possibilities, and with Him, the process is radically different than what we might expect.
No Help to Be Offered ~
The renovation work my friend did was all one-sided. No matter how many human names or other terms he used, he couldn’t coax that baby into contributing anything to the process. If he asked her to lift herself up on one side a bit so he could get to the rear axle better, she would have been helpless to comply. If he suggested that she should clean the accidental paint spray off her chrome bumper, she would have ignored him. But God’s transformation work is different.
Though the primary work of ensuring our ultimate redemption is accomplished through Jesus Christ by God alone, the transformation process that immediately begins is a living, cooperative, and interactive arrangement. God made it clear that we have a vital role to play:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1–2 NKJV)
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20–24 NKJV)
Again, we’re not automobiles, but every one of us is one of God’s ongoing renovation projects, and He’s determined to complete what He started, as the Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians:
….being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:5–6 NKJV)
God Won’t Do It All ~
My concern is not that God won’t finish His work, but as long as we’re in this life, some of that work belongs to us. We cannot do His part, but He will not do what He has delegated to us. We can’t have transformed lives without renovated minds, and we can’t have renovated minds by avoiding the Word of God and continuing to flood them with the moral garbage the world promotes. We can’t have the peace and harmony of new lives without shedding some old behaviors. God wants to renew us individually and collectively, but part of that process belongs to us.
My gear-head friend’s car didn’t just look new when he pulled the cover off. It looked better than new, and you’d never know it looked like a piece of junk before. I’m convinced that God would love to pull the covers back and show the world what He intended us to be. He’s waiting . . . the world is watching . . . and it’s past time that we do our part.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Our dents and defects don’t distort God’s vision or cause Him to look away. He remembers our original design and what we were intended to be. He looks at us through the blood of Jesus’ cross and sees a classic worth redeeming.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God looks at us through the blood of Jesus’ cross and sees a classic worth redeeming. He undertakes a transformation project that unlocks astounding possibilities. With Him, the process is radically different than what we might expect.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Though the primary work of ensuring our ultimate redemption is accomplished through Jesus Christ by God alone, the transformation process is a living, cooperative, and interactive arrangement. It’s clear that we have a vital role to play.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God will not do what He has delegated to us. We can’t have transformed lives without renovated minds, and we can’t have renovated minds by avoiding the Word of God and continuing to flood them with the moral garbage the world promotes.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “We can’t have the peace and harmony of new lives without shedding some old behaviors. God wants to renew us individually and collectively, but part of that process belongs to us.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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