Is it worth saving?
If you’ve ever been in a car accident in a later-model car, you’ve likely experience the frustration of having an insurance company declare that your previously sufficient vehicle has been deemed unworthy of repair. The cost to restore the vehicle has exceeded a certain percentage of its perceived value. Yet the money the insurance company offers in exchange doesn’t allow you to find an equally reliable source of transportation without spending additional money.
This same type of scenario plays out in many buildings. An old property that needs considerable repairs is often leveled in order to build a new and “improved” version. The charm and character of the old is replaced with all things energy-efficient and modern.
Many years ago, I walked by the home that used to belong to my great-grandparents. They had long since passed away, and I had no connection to the current owner. As I stood looking at the home, a man emerged from under the porch. He was wet with sweat and had clearly been digging. When he asked why I was looking at his house, I explained its historic connection to my family. He in turn shared that the home had been built on a log foundation, which had long since rotted away. He was digging out space to lay a concrete foundation.
Since that encounter, I often wondered why he would take the time and effort to do it. The home seemed to be in poor condition, and I couldn’t begin to image the huge cost associated with such an undertaking. It wasn’t until this week that I came to learn that the house is considered a historic property. There is likely a long list of regulations and compliances regarding the home, and he was probably prohibited from knocking it down and rebuilding.
There are clearly “experts” in both the automotive and housing industries who have the authority to derive formulas and determine value for what warrants repair or replacement. I’d guess you can appeal their decisions, but by and large, someone who has no intimate knowledge of the car or home gets to determine its worthiness.
Have we, in some capacity, taken on a similar mentality when it comes to dealing with people around us? Do we assess the outward appearance, count up the bruises and dents, and determine whether they are valuable enough for us to bother with?
Shamefully, I have to admit that I have on occasion fallen prey to this type of assessment. Someone’s “baggage” becomes too taxing, and I don’t want to spend any more of my valuable time on a person who doesn’t seem to need or appreciate my efforts.
But the error lies in the flawed thinking that broken people are projects. This isn’t about restoring a ’78 Corvette to its original glory. It’s about climbing into the passenger seat of someone’s life and being a willing travel partner on their journey.
There may be times when that person drives so recklessly that your own safety is in jeopardy. You may need to bail out in order protect yourself. However, despite how many times that person may drive to the edge or even over a cliff, never are we empowered to look at the wreckage and determine its depleted value.
Thank God (literally) that we aren’t given the authority to assess each other’s worth. Even with the best of intentions, we have corrupted scales when we try to weigh the good and bad parts of each other’s lives. Our spreadsheets would ultimately be balanced in favor of men and women of prestige, whether the high marks are given for wealth, position, or good works.
Instead, God looks at the lowliest, most broken and despised among us and still says, “This one is worth saving.” There is no level of drug addiction, mental breakdown, or physical deformity that alters His love and desire for relationship. The fascinating thing about God’s valuation system is that it’s preset for our benefit. He pays the full cost of restoration. It really is amazing grace―God’s unmerited favor!