It’s amazing how life lessons can be learned even in unexpected ways if you look closely enough. I appreciate how my mom would always take every opportunity to pick up golden nuggets of wisdom and teach us as we were growing up. The past few days, I’ve been pondering on this particular little nugget that I found.
A couple of weeks ago, during our weekly Bible Study at a friend’s house, she said that she found three old pens as she was cleaning out her home office. The pens looked dirty and broken, she was almost ready to throw them away but since she knew I was interested in pens, she decided to show them to me and let me have a look.
My friend seemed almost embarrassed to give them to me because they looked so dirty, but honestly, when I saw these pens, I couldn’t even see the grime. All I saw were the possibilities. It’s like my eyes looked through all the dirt and straight to what the pens actually were…Parker 75s.
So I set about the restoration job as soon as I went home. I took apart the pen, determined which parts to throw away and which ones to keep. I soaked the nibs for hours while persistently rubbing off the grime and oxidation from the pens. A few hours after, I could see what wasn’t obvious at first–the beautiful sterling silver, cisele finish.
It took a bit more rubbing over the next few days to get it to gleam, but after a few hours that first night, the pens started to look more like their old selves. I put them together again, replaced a few broken parts, and inked them. I set them on paper one at a time and oh, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt happier to see the ink streaming out of the nib in fine, wet lines. I tuned it a bit so it writes exactly the way I want it (wet and smooth), and by the end of the night, they were writing perfectly.
The more time I spent polishing these up, the better they look. There are dings in some spots, some signs of wear and stubborn stains, but overall, they’re beautiful and look almost new. Best of all, they are working again.
These past few days, I’ve been reading the book of Isaiah and the gospels, and this experience with restoring the pens reminded me of Jesus’ way of restoring us.
I’ve made such a mess of my life before. There was a point when I feel marred beyond recognition, broken, unfit to share a relationship with God or to ever be held in His hands again. Shame followed me around and piled on until I can barely remember what life was like before all the awful mistakes.
When I truly surrendered myself to Jesus’ hands, a radical thing happened. I wasn’t thrown in the garbage. Jesus looked at me and loved me, as awful as I thought I was. With complete surrender, the restoration process began. There were a few things that He took away, broken pieces that don’t help me at all. Perhaps at first they hurt but I trusted that it was necessary. There were a few things that took time to take away (like the dried up ink that needed to soak before the feed gave up the gunk), but again, the softening process was necessary.
The cleaning and polishing was done lovingly by hand. No shortcuts. Just a lot of hands-on effort to remove all that dirt piled on me, and a lot of time alone with Him. In the end, I had some faint scars from my rebellious years, but they don’t define me anymore. Bad decisions have consequences, but they’re not a disfigurement on me. Merely a part of the past.
In the end, I am the same person (much like the pens were still Parker 75s once they were cleaned up), except that the Lord has Himself made me clean, forgave me, removed what was not working anymore and gave me new life. I am once more an extension of His hand, able to do His good work while I am here on Earth. Much like how the pen is once again a functional writing tool. The shame of sin has been removed and I can now live without the past hanging about me reproachfully. Since I have experienced the liberating power of His forgiveness, I can tell everybody about it and point them back to Jesus who didn’t see me as fit to throw away, but restored me lovingly and cherished me as His own.
“Though you have allowed me to see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.”