All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…Isaiah 64:6a
An eighty year-old friend of mine told me of a cruel joke her older siblings would play on her when she was a little girl in order to prove their dominance. They told her they were going to give her to the “rag man”.
She explained a man came through the streets with a horse-drawn carriage collecting old rags and other broken down items people no longer wanted. He was the precursor to the junkman. Her brothers and sisters were in essence telling her she was junk and unwanted.
Growing up in the 1960’s, it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming that “God doesn’t make junk.” That’s true. But we no longer live is the Garden of Eden. Sin has invaded our world and seeped into our lives. Hate to say it folks, but when our humanistic society tells us that we are all essentially good inside, it is lying. We are not. One of the first things babies learn to do is manipulate others, think of “me” first, and tell falsehoods.
We are junk, but that doesn’t mean we are not wanted. God wants nothing more than to restore us back to priceless. He has bought us from the rag man through His own death for our sake and washed our filthy rags to become garments of pure white. He make us sinless…over and over again. Jesus paid the price to buy us back on the cross when God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2Corinthians 5:21
What does that mean?
Perhaps you once played with a commercially made Raggedy Ann or Andy — the cloth
dolls with a red heart painted on their chests. Originally homemade rag dolls were sewn from leftover clothes, odd buttons and whatever stuffing was around the house. But the cool thing? Each was unique. Each took time and imagination to create. Each came from junk and were transformed into a gift of beauty by the labor of love.
God can take whatever has become ragged and junky in our lives due to sin and make it into something good and of worth. We will never be thrown into the pit or garbage pile once we agree to become His child. His love for us makes Him pursue us so eventually, even if we fight it, we will yield to His restoration process.
No one likes change. It can be scary. But God loves us enough to accept us as we are yet, in spite of our raggedness, still wants to change us into His likeness– stitch by stitch, just like the rag doll.
So climb onto the rag man’s cart. God is not finished with you yet. Deliver yourself into the hands of the Master and watch your beauty being restored from the inside out. It may take a while, perhaps a lifetime. But God is a patient, slow to anger, and compassionate. (Psalm 103:8-9)
I’m another rags to riches story in the making. How about you?