Upcycling and the Gospel

Every item, every person, every creature has a story—a beginning, a middle and an end. This story begins with an old life jacket.

DSCN2068I acquired this particular life vest when my grandparents gave me their boat, and I kept it simply because you are required to have a certain number of life preservers in the boat when it’s on the water. This one was a last resort. The boat (and its successor) have long been gone from my possession. As I was cleaning out my storage unit, I found this and took this picture in order to post the life jacket for sale on Craigslist.


I was posting it at the end of the season… and it’s obviously old and tattered.

About the same time, I was experiencing a lot of lower back pain from sitting at a computer typing so many hours on end. My mother recommended buying a pillow to use as additional lumbar support.

Long story, slightly shorter, I decided that part of the flotation piece in this life jacket was the perfect size for just such a pillow.

So I dissected the life vest.

2012-09-16 02.12.57What a pleasant surprise to discover that the manufacturers had pre-packaged the insides perfectly for my purposes. Now I had the potential to create two lumbar pillows and one neck pillow for the airplane that would be too bulky to carry on but it was a good thought anyway.

I just needed some kind of covering. To make these inserts waterproof, they were sealed in some heavy-duty plastic that would cause an unpleasant and slimy lumbar situation.

I had an old pair of jeans with a hole in the butt, so I tested the fit.

2012-09-16 02.15.10They fit like a glove.

With a little cutting, fraying and an iron-on patch, I had two snazzy pillows made from items that easily could have been thrown away.

2012-09-21 03.19.03In the crafty DIY world, this process is called upcycling or repurposing. What I love about repurposing items, aside from the environmental impact and the creative process, is that it is a hands-on, modern day parable of how Christ changes lives.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus repurposes lives and creates beautiful stories of grace. Consider the demoniac who went from sitting naked in a cemetery cutting himself to becoming a missionary in his hometown; Saul, the persecutor of Christians, became Paul, the founder of the majority of the first century churches; Zaccheus went from padding his pockets with other people’s hard-earned money to wanting to pay back more than he had taken; or a blind beggar outside the synagogue who worshipped after Jesus healed him. Fishermen became preachers. Women with horrible reputations proclaimed the Christ.

When lives are repurposed, the stories support more than a bad back.

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