BILL, MY NEIGHBOUR, REMINDS ME OF GOD

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I am sitting here at my desk in our front room and across the street I can see Bill our retired neighbour working away in his garage. Bill and I have one thing in common, in fact come to think on it, recently we have had two things in common. We are both bikers and we have both been looking for a new motorbike. My beloved Beast was written off two weeks ago and as the insurance company decide how much they will pay me for her I have been looking for a new bike, well newer bike. I have been looking for the newest, shiniest Italian V-Twin bike I can get for my money, with the least amount of work required to make it pristine. If I had the money, I would buy a brand new one, shiny and perfect, straight from the factory. (ps its my Birthday on May 16th, in case any rich friends are reading this )

Bill told me last month he was looking for a new bike too and last week he showed his new “bike.” Well actually he showed me a rusty frame and about five boxes of oily and rusty “bits.” You see Bill is a classic bike restorer. He doesn’t really care for my newish shiny working machines, his passion is to take something that’s broken, ugly, dilapidated and restore it to its original condition just as the designer intended it to be. He has some shining examples of old British bikes he has already restored in his garage. Right now he is working on his new project with great purpose and he will keep doing that for the weeks, months and even years until he has fully restored it. He cleans, shapes, polishes, recoats, paints, refits and remodels day after day knowing that despite all the difficulties of finding and creating parts, of making parts fit together again and making old seized parts work that he will eventually restore this bike to the masterpiece its designer meant it to be. For Bill its not buying the best bike he can that gives him pleasure, its the challenge and joy of restoration.

I know Bill isn’t a Christ follower but watching him work away on his restoration project he reminds me of God. That thought came to me as I read these words from Paul and looked up to see Bill shaping another difficult to fit part.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Paul would never have seen a 1950 BSA Gold Flash but he thinks of God like Bill, as a great restorer, not of motorbikes but of human lives. He says that “in Christ,” through what Christ has done for us, through His Spirit and example and our relationship with Christ, God is recreating, restoring us to what he originally intended us to be. Salvation is about so much more than avoiding eternal punishment, it is God’s restoration work for humanity, restoring His Image in us. I am pretty sure that my life looks as unpromising a restoration project to the Angels as Bill’s boxes full of old broken bits looked to me but like Bill, God relishes the work of restoration however unpromising the raw materials. I can see Bill’s masterpieces of restoration in his garage and I see God’s masterpieces of restoration around me among His people. Oh sure in some ways in this life, we will always be like one of Bill’s projects on His bench, we will always be a work of restoration in progress but as the weeks and months go by I can see more and more of Bill’s masterpiece taking shape. I have been so privileged to see the same thing happen in people’s lives, God’s shaping and changing creating a masterpiece of humanity as He originally intended it to be.

Let me run something by you. The real outcome of a restoration project is not determined by how promising the parts are to start with but with the skill of the restorer. I would never have bought Bill’s boxes of oily, broken, rusted and seized parts because I could never envisage how they could possibly be restored to their original condition. If I was God, knowing what I know about myself, I probably wouldn’t have chosen my life as a restoration project, there are many, many people if I was God I would have left in broken pieces as beyond restoration. However God never does that, He is the ultimate restorer, there is no project beyond his capability. You may feel your life is irrevocably broken but God thinks otherwise and sees in you the potential to make a masterpiece of restoration. Just chew on that in your mind for a while, God sees potential in your life and wants to make you a masterpiece, a demonstration of his skill as a restorer of humanity.

Sadly Bill’s restoration projects sit idly in his garage, they go to the occasional classic bike show to be admired but they aren’t ridden. How different with God, he isn’t interested in restoring us to display us as museum pieces but to use us, to use us in his great mission of restoration of the whole of humanity and ultimately the cosmos. His purpose in restoring us as human beings created in His Image is to give us purpose, “so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Gerard Kelly comments on this thought that “The message of the New Testament is an invitation not only to forgiveness and reconciliation, but to purpose and meaning: to usefulness; to beauty. Its an offer of restoration: an invitation to become a human being who shines like the first day out of the factory. That’s an offer I want to take up, how about you?

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