One of the best purchases we ever made was a sleeping bag. Several years ago, Daniel needed a new sleeping bag as he was beginning his adventures as a Boy Scout. His old bag was a little embarrassing, as it was a “kiddie” sleeping bag, in bright colors. That was fine for a backyard family adventure, but not so good for tenting with the guys. So, for his birthday one year, we trekked down to Bass Pro Shops and found a mummy bag. It was a little on the expensive side, but I figured it would be worth it, because the brand had a good reputation.
The decision turned out to be a wise one. For several years, Daniel lugged that bag to campout after campout. One day, though, he came to me and complained that there was a problem with the zipper. “It won’t close,” he explained, and as I looked at it, I saw why. A couple of the teeth had been broken, so the zipper couldn’t engage to close.
We considered replacing the bag; after all, it had been four or five years. But I had heard that this particular company had a lifetime warranty, so I visited their website. Sure enough, I found that that they repair or replace the zipper, free of charge. All I had to do was send it back to the manufacturer in my own packaging. I was skeptical at first; I thought they might refuse to do the repair because it wasn’t a manufacturer’s defect; it was due to rough use, and they would certainly have been justified in saying “no”. But they assured me that they understood that the problem wasn’t any fault of theirs, but their brand was important to them, and this is why their program existed.
I filled out the forms, found a suitable box, and mailed it. A few weeks later, the very same box was sitting by the door. The manufacturer had replaced the zipper, cleaned the bag and it was as good as new.
I love companies will stand behind their brand. Some companies are famous for this. Of course, there are limitations, but if the problem results from normal use – and in some cases, minor misuse – they’ll usually take care of it. But they can’t fix it unless the customer makes the first step. You have to find the manufacturer and ask for help. It has to be costly for the company to do this; they would, of course, like to sell you a new product, but the price is acceptable to them because it’s part of their reputation for excellence.
Recently, it occurred to me that we are a lot like that sleeping bag; we’re broken from misuse. When God created us, we (and the world in which we lived) were perfect. God gave us the world and told us to have dominion over it. Imagine how perfect it was at first; fresh, shiny and new from its Creator. God, the flawless Creator of the Universe, gave it to us that way. Every creature, rock and blade of grass had its purpose in the Divine plan; it was a beautiful tapestry, resplendent in form and function.
He made us perfect, as well. Creating us in His image, he placed in us a Divine Spark of life, and walked with Adam and Eve (and, by extension, us) in the Garden. We could have lived like this forever in perfect peace and harmony. He gave us just one rule: “don’t eat the fruit from that tree.” But you know what happened next: tempted by the lying serpent, the First Couple took the fruit and ate, plunging everything into chaos.
Suddenly, everything changed because of this one willful act. Sin had entered the world, with its putrid corruption of what once was perfect. Ever since, things have been broken. The Earth suffers because of our brokenness, like an infection that spreads to others. Isaiah noted this in Isaiah 24: The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.
If you think about it, nothing works like it should because we have voided the warranty. It’s not a manufacturer’s defect; we know that all of Creation was pronounced “Good” by its Creator, and thus perfect. It would have continued to work perfectly until the end of time, had we not failed. But, remember, he gave us dominion and control over creation; what happens to it is up to us. And, let’s face it; we have done a pretty poor job. Things down here are a mess.
But (much more so than a sleeping bag company which takes the time to carefully craft a product and believes in it so much that it has a “lifetime warranty”) our Creator believes in his creation. God can – and will – restore us to original “mint” condition; we, too have a (true) lifetime warranty. But there is a price to pay: we’ve got to realize our brokenness, seek out the Manufacturer, and return ourselves to Him with a repair ticket. In the process, we must agree to change our self-destructive behavior and return ourselves to him.
If we do so, He will repair us, allowing us the right to become heirs in the ultimate family-owned company. He does this through the most generous return policy in the history of the universe; the Director of Refurbishment happens to be the Son of the Creator; he’s the only one who could handle the immense responsibility. His name is Jesus.
The price for this universal return program is immense; it cost the Son his royal throne as he came to live among us, lived a perfect life, and finally endured suffering on a cruel cross, rejected by the very people he came to save. All that sin and wrongdoing – yours and mine – were heaped on his shoulders as he died. But that wasn’t the end of the story! God raised him back to life, he walked the Earth for a while, then went home, where he is now preparing for our arrival. When his plans are completed, he will restore everything to its original factory condition, and will “make all things new” again. Even now, he still bears the scars as a reminder to us of what he did for us. Because of that incredible, undeserved, selfless act, we can be restored if we chose to accept the undeserved gift of grace.
If you recognize that there is something not right about your life, if you’re being tossed by the waves of happenstance and nothing seems to work out like it should, you are on the verge of uncovering the greatest truth in history. Your Creator made you, loves you, has never stopped pursuing you, and wants you back! But he also gave you the will to choose; you can continue to try to run things your own way, and take your chances that you can get everything right on your own.
Aren’t you tired from running around trying to control everything? Perhaps it’s time for you to send yourself back to the Manufacturer. When you return from that process, you will be different. Sure, you’ll still have to endure life; no one promised it would be easy. You’ll need to make some changes. But your life will have new purpose and direction; as a new creature, you will look at the world with fresh vision, and become a better human being as you carry out your Creator’s work. And one day, when this short existence is over, you can be sure you will be forever with him, as you embark on the adventures of the glorious infinity ahead.
If you are interested in finding out more about this wonderful, free universal return program, a good place to start is to click here, or just ask me or seek out someone at a local church. Whatever you do, I hope you will find the happiness and abundant life that can only come from the one who made you, loves you, plans for you and wants you back.