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Stuck at the Bottom of a Box
"For this is what the Lord says . . .without money you will be redeemed.”
"Better to sell it for a quarter than keep it for nothing." This was the motto purported by the coordinator of our church rummage sale. So, when I found a small saucer hidden at the bottom of a box of donated items, I ignored its appearance and dutifully stuck it with a twenty-five cent label. The plate soon found itself on a folding table holding numerous other cheap things.
Fortunately, another worker with a keener eye than mine saw possible value in the plate. She took it to an antique dealer who gasped when she saw the beautiful flower painted in the center of the dish. “Why this is an original Majolica!” she exclaimed, ripping off the twenty-five cent sticker. “This plate is worth at least $35!” And she bought it. How unfortunate that such a beautiful, valuable plate would end up relegated to the bottom of a box of devalued stuff.
The Lord reminded me of another time when I failed to recognize true value. Only this time it involved a person, not a plate. A woman attended our church for a short time. Her outward appearance was not attractive and her hygiene was—well—in need of serious attention. Her hair was stringy and her clothes ill-fitting. A couple of times I gave her a ride home and, even though it was wintertime, I kept my window down to avoid the unpleasant odor coming from the passenger’s side. The day she told us she was moving and would have to find a closer church, I secretly rejoiced—much to my shame.
Several months later, she called to tell me a woman at her new church was taking her for a complete make-over, including new clothes and a fresh hairstyle. “Wow,” I said, suppressing a little tinge of guilt. “That’s wonderful. What’s the occasion?”
“No special occasion,” she responded. “The woman said she saw value in me and wanted to help me look good.”
Obviously, I had a serious flaw in my vision. I couldn’t recognize beauty when it stared me in the face, and I couldn’t see potential when it sat next to me in my car! Thank God He can spot both beauty and potential, whether He’s looking at an individual—or an entire nation, like Israel.
No matter how rebellious the Israelites were, God never lost hope in them. He always recognized their true value and often spoke through the prophets to underscore that truth. In their original form, the Israelites were God's chosen people, highly favored and set apart from all others. However, they compromised their covenant with the Lord and, after resisting numerous opportunities to repent, ended up in Babylonian captivity for seventy years.
In the midst of their bondage, God looked at the bottom of the box and saw more than a discarded nation. Despite the Israelites’ defects, the Lord acknowledged their true worth and tagged them with a promise to redeem them without money (a prophetic word about Jesus who paid the ultimate price by giving His own life). They didn’t deserve it, but God couldn’t help Himself. He’s drawn to devalued throw-aways because He knows the original value.
Sometimes we may feel like we’re stuck at the bottom of a box—forgotten and worthless. How did we get there? Whether someone else did it to us, or whether we did it to ourselves, it’s not too late to be rescued. The Master is dying to retrieve us and restore our natural beauty. If we let Him, He’ll remove the old labels and mark us as His originals. We may not deserve it, but He just can’t help Himself.
Are you ready to get out of the box?
Lord, thank you for seeing enough value in my life to redeem me with yours. I give you permission to pull me from the bottom of the box so I can fulfill your purpose for my life. Help me treat others with the same kindness you have shown me so I can help them fulfill their purpose as well.
Copyright 2015, Mary K. Selzer