by Mike Durbin
PLYMOUTH, MI – It’s amazing what can be done with pallet wood! Just google “pallet wood”, and you will see a plethora of creative ways to use what most think of as a by-product of transportation. From furniture, to signs, and wall coverings, pallet wood is finding new uses. Churches across our state are using it in a variety of artistic ways to beautify their places of worship.
I was recently struck by the transformation pallet wood made in the foyer of City Church in Clio. Pastor Rick Marcus is doing an incredible job replanting the church. Part of his ministry is leading the church to reimagine some of the spaces. One of the most dramatic, visible expressions of this is their using pallet wood to create an inviting space where people connect with each other in a remodeled foyer. Wood that was originally used to transport something else of value, was repurposed to add beauty, character, and charm. The redesign of this space created a setting where people feel comfortable and relaxed as they huddle in small groups, sit around tables, or stand around the beautifully designed counter for coffee and doughnuts.
Having seen so many inviting ways to use pallet wood, Shar and I decided to use it in our own remodeling project. Each piece of the reclaimed pallet wood was unique. As we sorted through the boards, some were scarred, filled with nails or staples that had been cut off. Some were longer, thicker or wider than others. Some were smooth on the surface, while others were rough sawn. Each board, because of its unique characteristics, took the stain differently. We joined the wonderfully diverse boards together in a way that pleased us.
As I was working with the unique pieces of wood, memories flooded my mind of how God brought some precious, one-of-a-kind people in my life. People from different backgrounds, different places, with stories much different than mine, but He brought us together through our common faith in Christ.
Working with the boards, I was reminded of the time I asked a church to write an answer to the question, “What does Jesus mean to me?” For several weeks, people covered the walls of the foyer with their testimonies of the value of Christ in their lives. Before long, the walls were filled with written testimonies from every age person in our church. People stopped before and after the services to read the testimonies. Here is a sample from every age group expressing gratefulness for Jesus:
“Jesus is my heart” (Preschooler).
“Jesus means to me the world, my life, my strength.” (Elementary age).
“Jesus has always been a friend to me, a light in dark places. When all have forsaken me, Jesus was there as my only companion. When my family was broken, He was my father. When my whole world shatters around me and I have no want to toil on in this weary world, the Lord is my lifeline and gives me a purpose and a mission” (High School student - Foster Kid).
“Comfort during times of uncertainty, reassurance in times of doubt, mercy and grace, guidance when I am feeling lost, and most of all Jesus means to me everlasting life” (College Student).
“I’ve been through a lot of valleys in my life. Looking back, I can see it’s because I’ve made a lot of choices that weren’t in line with His will. But even though I haven’t always done His will and accepted Him as my best Friend and Father, I know He has been by my side every step of the way, loving me, and leading me. That is something no human has ever done or been for me consistently. He has never left me wanting, and has provided for all of my needs. I will be forever grateful to Him for having loved me in the past, for loving me today, and for loving me and walking beside me in the future” (Adult).
“Jesus means everything to me. He came into my life at age 13. Jesus has never left me or failed me. Jesus is my hope, my assurance, my joy. There is no way to tell anyone what Jesus means to me. Jesus has filled my every need” (Senior Adult).
One of my favorite testimonies was written by a middle-aged adult: “It seemed like Pastor Mike preached about every painful thing going on in my life. One Sunday, I was handed a stone as we entered church. I was sure that Pastor Mike had lost his mind. I soon found out that he was going to help me find mine. …When he gave the altar call, he said to bring our pain, sorrow and burdens in the rock and leave them on the altar. Well, I left my pain on that altar as well as renewing my prayer for forgiveness. Since that day, I have the greatest peace I have ever known. Jesus is only a breath away. With Jesus as my Savior, there is nothing we can’t handle.”
The testimonies told during that emphasis were as unique as the people who wrote them. Each was a testimony to the work of Christ in individual lives, and a testimony to our unity as the family of God. I was so moved by the testimonies that I kept them for years in a file as a reminder to the work of Christ.
As I was building the pallet board wall, the faces of many people came to mind. Like the wall I was building, each person was a beautiful part of a much more beautiful whole. Each piece of wood was bound to the other. Each was held in place by boards - beside, above, and below it. Together, they made something that they could never be alone.
I know, it’s just a wall. But it’s a reminder to me that we are part of an incredible family - the family of God. We are connected to those who came before us, to those with us on the journey, and to those who will follow. Together, we are “...no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.