Saturday, September 25, 2010

God's Shopping List

The dark, cobwebbed barn looked like a great place to find treasures. With permission from my husband’s grandmother I poked around in abandoned calf pens, behind crates, and opened a squeaky door to an old feed room.

Cautious in the darkened passageways, I watched for unfriendly spiders, and I heard scurrying things and wished for a flashlight to shine into the shadowed corners.

But curiosity had the best of me, and as my eyes adjusted to the barn’s dusky interior, I spotted a butter churn with dasher sitting near a slatted wall. When homogenized milk and butter wrapped in paper became the easier way to bring dairy products home, those conveniences had put the old churn out of work. I brought it out into the light of day. All it needed was a cleaning and it would shine.

Excited, I explored other dark corners and found a few chipped enamel basins, a galvanized wash tub, and a paint splattered wash bench and added them to the churn sitting outdoors. Back into the treasure den I went. Eyes once again adjusted, I spied a child’s trunk and two paint encrusted chairs. I hauled them out and stacked them next to my stash. They only needed to be brought out into the light, cleaned up, and made useful again.

I’d rummaged in every nook when a shaft of sunshine highlighted something leaning against a wall, covered with an old burlap bag. When I lifted the cloth, thousands of dust motes took wing. I found a beautifully framed large mirror, the last treasure I found in the barn that day and the only one still in use in my home.

The pottery churn sits on my back porch reminding me of my easier life. The trunk vacations in my daughter’s home. The two chairs, masquerading under multi-layers and multi-colors, were later dipped in a vat of stripping solvent. Two lovely oak chairs emerged. Their golden sheen restored, they now sit in our family room near our barley twist breakfast table awaiting coffee for two – useful once again. The wash tub filled with Miracle-Gro potting soil holds three patio tomato plants in a small garden area just off our kitchen.

But the mirror is the most used item from my barn snooping. The age-flecked mirror was discarded, the frame sanded and refurbished, and a new mirror installed. Because of its age, Victorian women with frilled collars up to their chins must have preened in front of it. Where it hangs in my home, I’ve seen grandmothers and granddaughters glance at themselves as they pass by.

Mirrors may be ones’ best friend and worst enemy. They don’t lie. So, if we walk by one smugly saying to ourselves, “Lookin’ good!” then we probably spiffed up quite nicely -- at least on that day. How many mirrors do most people own? Count yours. I just took a walk through my house and garage (auto too) and counted mirrors. Are you ready? I have an even dozen. Something about that number sets off an alarm.

Men and women often pretty up the outside. We groom our hair, select complementary clothes, and do our best to stay healthy. But today, I’m particularly thinking about what’s on the inside. Apostle Paul said “we have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7). That’s how he described the light of Jesus in human bodies.

In the ancient world, gold or other precious metals were melted and poured in a simple clay pot and then the vessel could be broken and the expensive metal retrieved when needed. Or a clay jar could hold oil and fire and offer light.

Any of us, whether beautiful or high mileage, looks a whole lot better when Jesus shines through us. Sometimes God presented his message through the humble and poor -- a young virgin, a carpenter, or a fisherman. But he also chose people of influence such as Paul and Nicodemus because they were willing to repent of selfish desires and inherit a healing light – for themselves and to shine out to others.

God has a treasure and he’s looking for a place to put it. What’s on his shopping list? He’s looking for jars of clay that he can remake into lamps.

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