Recycled Lives

Broken lives with a beautiful purpose

The story I’m about to tell is true… Well, it’s truly based on a dream with true application and meaning. This is not a typical fictional depiction of how I think of things, nor is it an eyewitness account of something that actually happened. In case you’re wondering, this is not an account of an out of body experience. Now that you have some idea of what you’re getting into I’ll begin the story.

Just over a year ago I had a dream that I feel the need to share with you. I normally don’t remember much about my dreams, and what I do remember seems meaningless, but this time was different. This time I remembered everything and was sure it was real when I woke up, but I wasn’t sure at first what it all meant. The story I’m about to share with you is my dream as it happened and the interpretation as it came to me.

As the dream began I arrived at a parking lot that appeared to be miles wide and a long ways away from anything. The old blue van I arrived in seemed to disappear into the endless array of vehicles that were already on the lot, and that was unimportant compared to where I was headed. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and you might say the weather was perfect. I could hear birds of all kinds singing and chirping, and off in the distance I could hear the sound of glass breaking and what sounded like glass bottles being sorted through.

As I continued to walk toward these sounds I realized I was approaching some kind of recycle facility or scrap yard along a beautiful beach. I approached the piles junk and realized there was some of everything imaginable piled on this seemingly endless beach. I saw some people picking through piles of colored glass and placing the pieces on wooden frames to create beautiful works of art—mosaics that would rival the works of the greatest artists.

I saw a small building much like you would see at a small car lot. Someone told me the owner of this place was inside the building. Another person told me something that suggested the owner was actually God. As I was about to enter the building the sun was in my eyes and a dense morning fog was rolling through, so I couldn’t see much more than the basic shapes of things, but the owner met me at the door and said “come in, I’ve been waiting for you.” I looked up to see the owner’s face, but it seemed as if I was looking directly at the sun through the dense fog.

The owner walked in and sat at a desk to the left, looking out the window as if he was admiring the beauty of what was happening along the beach. He had his back to me, so I took the opportunity to look at him and see if I could discover why the person outside suggested he was God. This man looked like any other man; he was wearing khaki cargo shorts, a red Hawaiian-style shirt, leather sandals and black wrap-around sunglasses. I remember thinking to myself that he looked a lot like Jimmy Buffett. As the man stared out the window he said “Another beautiful day isn’t it?”

As I looked around I noticed everything in the building was made from broken pieces of other things. Nothing was perfect, but somehow it was beautiful. Somehow I knew I was supposed to be there and be a part of whatever was going on. I asked the man “What am I supposed to do here?” He pointed to all of the restoration and recycling projects that were going on and answered “There’s no hurry, no time limit, just make something beautiful.” As he spoke this time I knew he really was God.

Just then I awoke from the dream with the morning sun shining brightly through my window. I walked to my front door to look outside and the fog was so dense that all I could see was sunlight. It was at that moment that I knew this dream meant something—something important.

Throughout the year I pondered the meaning of this dream. Where was I? What was I supposed to make beautiful? Who were the other people? Why was God managing a scrap and recycle yard? Why was there a scrap yard on such a beautiful beach?

I couldn’t answer any of these questions at first. Because the dream seemed so important and God’s words were echoing so clearly in my mind I looked for an immediate application. Was God telling me to make something beautiful of my own life? Was I supposed to “recycle” my life in some way? I couldn’t figure it out.

As time went on I kept thinking about how to apply this dream to my life, and finally I came to a realization. God really is in the recycling business. In the Old Testament God showed the prophet Isaiah how we are as clay in the potter’s hands. We all have a purpose; God (the Potter) has a plan—a design for each and every one of us before we are ever born. We are human and therefore subject to temptation and for most of us that means failure and disaster in some aspect of our lives. Our mistakes and failures are like imperfections in the clay, some affect our lives more than others, but they all make us unique. The good thing about being clay in the potter’s hands is that the potter doesn’t throw the clay away because it is marred, but he reworks and reshapes it until it can fulfill its intended purpose.

If Isaiah were here today God might send him to a recycling facility to teach him this same lesson. We go our own way, do our own thing, make mistakes, experience failures, and go through our share of hardships; all of these things shape who we are. Sadly in our society too many times that one big mistake, one failure, one breakdown leaves us discarded, trashed, ruined, and left behind. It’s a good thing God is in the recycling business. God can pick up the lost, broken, ruined, trash and discarded, and make something beautiful of their lives.

So why did God tell me to take all the time I needed and make something beautiful? You see, no matter how long I worked at it, even if time was truly infinite, I couldn’t make a broken life into something beautiful on my own. I believe God wanted me to come to this conclusion on my own so I would realize that I am powerless on my own.

As for the other details of the dream, well, they became clear as well after I was able to see the main point. The endless parking lot full of vehicles represented the millions of people who are in various stages of sorting out the pieces of their broken and ruined lives. The mosaic artwork being assembled represented the beauty that can come from a broken life. Obviously you already know why God was managing a recycling facility, but that doesn’t explain why God was just an average guy. I’d like to think that was God’s way of meeting me on my level and delivering this message. The fog and intense sunlight would also be the first thing I saw when I woke up, so it served to validate the reality and importance of the dream. As for the whole thing taking place on a beautiful beach, well, maybe it was heaven, maybe it was the world as God sees it, or maybe it was the beauty of the place that inspired the creativity of the great recycler. Perhaps that beautiful beach is the place of peace and contentment that we all come to when we bring our broken lives before God.

This message is for two groups of people, those who gather the recycling, and those whose lives need recycled. Maybe you’re one of the people that modern society has trashed, maybe you’ve made that one big mistake, and maybe you keep making mistakes and feel like a complete failure. Maybe you have an addiction you can’t seem to break, or maybe you’re in the middle of financial ruin. In any case God can make something beautiful of your life. We’ve all heard the saying “where there’s life there’s hope”, in this case it couldn’t be more true; it’s never too late to give your life to God.

Maybe you’re the person who should be gathering the recycling. Maybe you have alcoholic or drug-addicted neighbors that you avoid; you’ve trashed them. Maybe you have friends, coworkers or family members that live lifestyles that you refuse to be around; you’ve discarded them. Maybe you see yourself as better than those around you just because you’ve been blessed enough to not make a mess of your life. You should be out there amongst those people that you’ve trashed and discarded showing them the love of Christ. Jesus loves the outcasts. When Jesus was on earth He approached those who were dreaded, hated, trashed, and discarded like Zacchaeus the tax collector, the Samaritan woman at the well, and the woman who would have been stoned to death for committing adultery, and offered to make something beautiful of their lives. Dare to truly follow Christ instead of being a fan of Christ. Do as Jesus did and gather the recycling.

I hope and pray that this story has touched your life as it has mine. I am both a person who feels discarded by others and a person who has discarded others because I’ve only seen their faults. It took seeing this recycling business from God’s perspective for me to realize how God looks beyond our faults and imperfections, sees our potential, and meets our needs. God doesn’t throw His creation away, He loves us just as we are and desires to make us all into something beautiful.

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