"Rust Never Sleeps." It was a sight straight out of Fixer Upper. Joanna Gains would have been in architectural salvage heaven. Every square inch of the old garage and shop was full of old barn doors, well used knobs and hooks, antique boxes once used to house all sorts of goods from cigars to crayons. Old burlap sacks that once transported flour and pig feed were stacked high, still rich with the scent of farm life and hard work. Rows upon rows of old slabs of wood, shiplap for you Fixer Upper-lovers, stretched back hundreds of feet and deep and stories high.
This was my first trip to an architectural salvage yard, my first encounter with the beauty of chipped paint and broken stained glass windows. And I loved it. I loved the feel of each unique antique door knob and the brass workings that still held them together after decades of use. I loved the broken-down trap doors that once protected homes and farms and many a cow’s stall. I loved the shiplap. Oh, the shiplap! Each piece was unlike any other. Wooden finishes once perfectly painted and polished now showed scrapes, a testimony to the years spent nailed securely as the floors of a dining room or maybe even the walls of an old farm house.
As I searched through stacks of old burlap sacks the scent drew me in even further to the rich history of every piece delicately laid out across the store. Each burlap sack told a story. Each was a step back in someone else’s time. One bag was straight from Columbia while others touted that the freshest seed comes from Virginia. Pig farmers and beef farmers had their logos stamped on those old burlap sacks. Holes and tattered, frayed edges had developed over years of being filled and emptied for the survival of the farm and the benefit of its livestock.
With old burlap sacks in hand, surrounded by thousands of pieces of one-of-a-kind salvage, the scent of something more than swine filled the air. I took a deep breath and was overcome with the sweet aroma of salvation. In every knick-knack, trinket and old barn door I saw God at work in the human heart. I saw a vivid picture of how God saves salvage - how God saves you and I – for His glory.
God takes us from our perceived “usefulness” and breaks us to create His kind of beauty. He removes us from the world’s standard of polished and painted and nails us to a wall of His choosing, developing character and our own personal testimony. We get bruised, scraped and utterly tattered, all for His glory and, ultimately our good.
In the end what we turn out to be is salvage. By being used and spent for God, we develop finishes and edges that are distinct and individual. Our nail holes look completely different from every one else’s. Where our paint has chipped and cracks is distinctive and unique. It is in all of those cracked and imperfect places that God sees something worth salvaging. Where the world looks and sees trash and ruin, God sees potential and the makings of a treasure. He looks at our stories and histories of brokenness and sees beauty. He looks upon our ruin and sees a story of redemption. It is in the salvage of our lives that God takes His mighty hand and uses it to pen His story of salvation.
At “Rust Never Sleeps” I bought one of those old burlap sacks from an Ohio Farm. The bag once delivered grain for the cows that produced the beef that fed the family and was delivered to market in nearby towns. Now that the sack is retired from its day job it has taken on a new use – as a future pillow that reminds me of the promise of salvage.
My plan to repurpose that old burlap into a beautiful treasure is the same purpose God has for you and I when we allow Him to purchase us. When we choose to be bought with the precious blood of Christ and give ourselves over and into His hands, He will indeed use us for the sake of His eternal Kingdom and write His story of salvation in our salvage.