Salvaged Driftwood

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

A most unique catalog recently advertised some very beautiful and expensive furniture made of simple driftwood. The selection included a beautiful coffee table as well as rather tastefully designed dining tables, fireplace mantles, picture frames, bird cage stands and lamp stands – all utilizing simple driftwood! There was even included a driftwood Christmas tree! Prices ranged into the thousands of dollars! And all of the items were fashioned out of simple grayish-brown driftwood, weathered and bleached by the elements –wind and water, sun and sand! How very interesting it is that one piece of driftwood is picked up by passing beachcombers for use as fire wood, while another piece sitting next to it is picked up and fashioned into something incredibly expensive and coveted!

What is the difference between the two? The two could, in fact, be almost identical – sharing similar scars and breaks and snags and deterioration. Yet their fates are so divergent, so diametrically opposed!  I submit to you their outcomes are determined by the perspective of each beholder. One is viewed as having no value – or very little value – in its dead and gnarled form. Another is seen as having great worth on account of its unique shape or hidden potential! One is thought utterly worthless; the other deemed a coveted prize!

As such, salvaged driftwood can easily and accurately be considered a symbol of salvation. For it is saved from the fire to perform an important and noteworthy function! Interestingly enough, the words “salvage” and “salvation” share the same Latin root, salvus, which means to save or rescue from destruction. Michelangelo, perhaps the premier artist whose works so greatly shaped the Italian Renaissance, once salvaged a huge block of marble that Donatello had rejected because of imperfections. From it, he sculptured the immense and remarkable “David” – one of the grandest and extraordinary statues of all time.

That which, on a faint scale, Michelangelo could do with marble, Almighty God in Christ Jesus does continuously with His people! Those who are His followers are anything but perfect! Which of us is not marked by deep abrasions and scars acquired during the difficult seasons of life? Which of us has not in some manner been bent and bowed by trying forces beyond our control? And which of us has not in some defining way been scraped and scoured and tumbled by the unrelenting tides of life?

Just consider our Lord’s closest followers. Dear St. Matthew – formerly Levi – a hated tax-collector, twisted in an occupation rife with corruption. Others would have left him to his devices, but Jesus Christ picked him up as a beachcomber would a piece of denuded driftwood and made something noble of his life! Then there was St. Peter –formerly Simon – a driftwood-like figure marked by very real imperfections! His unsightly, impetuous snags and uneven, vitriolic grain would have been cast aside by any other passerby. But our Lord saw his potential and fashioned him into a great Church leader whose seasoned wisdom, indomitable commitment and relentless labors have drawn millions toward the redeeming strength of God’s truth and grace.

In considering the beauty and attractiveness of unique, finished driftwood, I am often reminded of the insightful and meaningful lyrics from years gone by:

Something beautiful. Something good.
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife.
But He made something beautiful of my life.

Nothing is too difficult for God! Nothing! His vision for us – individually and collectively – is much greater and much more splendid than our own vision for ourselves. As the great cosmic Craftsman and Redeemer of mankind, His specialty is in saving and salvaging those otherwise deemed ruined and thought worthless. What is it that God is steadily and skillfully making of your life? What is He creatively salvaging of mine?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  World without end. Amen.
Bishop Johnson


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