One of the things Debbie and I have enjoyed watching lately is Maine Cabin Masters. It’s a show where Chase and Ashley (brother and sister) and their crew go to some of the most broken down cabins in Maine and (with relatively little money invested by owners) make they look as good, if not better, than they did when they were first built.
The best ones, however, are the ones where there is almost nothing left, and they make it look beautiful.
Ashley, who is the designer, always seems to work in something special from the camp’s past, or from what they find in or around the cabin, so that there is still some of the old that is still visible (just more beautiful). One episode that comes to mind is where they took an old canoe and made it into a chandelier.
Once the owner realizes that work needs to be done, and is willing to commit what’s necessary to make that happen, beautiful things can be the result.
We see God’s call to repentance and renewal in Jeremiah chapter 3, especially in verses 12-15.
“Return, unfaithful Israel. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will not look on you with anger, for I am unfailing in my love. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt — you have rebelled against the Lord your God. You have scattered your favors to strangers under every green tree and have not obeyed me. This is the Lord’s declaration. Return, you faithless children — This is the Lord’s declaration — for I am your master, and I will take care of you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds who are loyal to me, and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill.”Jer. 3:12-15 CSB
It is a wonderful picture of God’s unfailing love. Israel has made a mess of things, worshiping other gods (who are no gods at all), and for this Israel would be heading into exile. But God’s love goes far beyond their (our) sins.
They have not only prostituted themselves with other gods, but they have been disobedient to Him. Yet God, in His infinite mercy, grace and love sends Jeremiah to call them back to Himself. He desires for them to come back into a relationship with Him.
But in order for them to come back to Him, they need to recognize their sins, they need to acknowledge them before God, and they need to turn from them.
The same holds true for us.
No matter what we have done, or what we do, God is always standing there with open arms. He desires to welcome us back. But we need to admit that we have gone astray.
We need to acknowledge that there is work to be done, and we need to be willing to commit to change. It might be painful and expensive initially, but it will lead to a beautiful restoration in the end.