By Joel Bates
It was a tangled, mangled, woebegone mess of a boat, but the price was right. As the craigslist stranger and I stood fussing about the problems and haggling over the price, my mind was swimming with the potential. Here was a sailboat, well most of it, and I envisioned myself cruising along with the wind blowing through my hair, the sails full, the boat responding to my every whim. Never mind that I’d been sailing only once. So what if maybe some of the pieces were bent, broken, or missing? So what if there was a big gaping crack in the plastic hull below the water line? I was hooked.
My wife smiled kindly and said little as we stood in our driveway later, she appraising my find and I praising myself for my cunning, bargain-hound prowess. She had seen me come home with such a “deal” before. I couldn’t wait to get to work, so I got out the garden hose and began spraying off the half decade of dirt. I wanted this to be a family venture, so I conscripted my kids, having them scrub and scour the stuck-on debris from the seats and floor of the boat. I was already shaping up to be a great sea captain; I had my crew swabbing the deck!
Having removed the layers of dirt, I admired the shining result and set about doing the real work. Cracks in the plastic needed patching; I would need to invest in fiberglass to cover the damaged parts. Chain anchors needed repair; lines had to be replaced, and that big crack below the waterline began to worry me. The more I worked, the more I realized that this job was going to be bigger, harder, and more expensive than I had thought. My wife wasn’t smiling when I showed her the Home Depot bill.
One day while I was attempting to connect the mast and sails, everything seemed to be going wrong. I threw up my hands in disgust, looked to the sky and yelled at God. “God, if in Your sovereignty You were happy for me to have a boat, then why didn’t You just give me a good, sound, working boat? Why do I always have to end up with broken stuff that has to be fixed? Why does it have to be so hard?”
My wife was standing next to me as I ranted. After a moment, the yelling stopped, and she quietly said, “Maybe God just wants you to be more like Him.”
I looked at her with shame, “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t shout at Him. God probably doesn’t like to be shouted at, huh?”
“That’s not what I mean,” she clarified. “He is a Redeemer of broken things.”
My anger dissipated, and my eyes teared up as she took my hand and we looked at the broken treasure before us. Suddenly I didn’t want a nice, new (or even slightly used) sailboat. I wanted this boat with its cracks, broken parts, pock marks, and scars to help me remember that God is in the process of fixing me, a broken man. He looked at me and saw beyond my signature sins, my trivial trophies, my sand-pile hill of worldly treasures, my weaknesses, and my failures—past, present, and future. He saw potential.
God sees what He is going to do in our lives, and He knows the outcome before He even begins the make-over. Psalm 139 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made;… [His] eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in [His] book before one of them came to be (139: 14, 16).” God knows us and has a plan for us. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” God took great pains to redeem our lives, fix our brokenness, and set us free. He doesn’t want a prodigy that is already “put together;” He wants a beloved soul that He can perfect through His Son. We don’t need to come to Him clean. We just come surrendered and ready to be made new. Our God will make us holy and beautiful!
Every boat needs a name. I stepped back to take in the full view of my project when suddenly it came to me. I turned to my wife and proclaimed, “I think I’ll call it the “REDEMPTION!”
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.