November 21, 2021

What I Learned from Restoring a 100-Year-Old Desk

An Adventist pastor in the U.S. shares how his hobby reminded him about salvation.

Lester Bentley, Rocky Mountain Conference News

As pastor of a five-church Wyoming district in the U.S. that stretches nearly 200 miles (more than 300 kilometers) from end to end, I often don’t have time to dabble in a hobby. Yet, it is essential for my mental well-being. 

My pursuit of choice is restoring antique furniture. While cruising Facebook Marketplace one day, I saw a nearly 100-year-old secretary desk that had seen better days. The price was steeper than I wanted to pay, and it was located in Colorado, while I live in northeastern Wyoming. Yet, it appealed to me. My wife says it was as if it was calling out for help. I made arrangements to bring the desk from Colorado to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and then to Douglas, Wyoming, where the exchange of the desk for money took place.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, but the image of this desk on Facebook was much better than how it looked in reality. It was dirty, with a broken leg taped up with electrical tape. Without the electrical tape, the desk could not even stand on its legs. Yet another leg was missing its top, and each joint was either broken or loose. Yet, I could see the potential. So, with the purchase made, the process of disassembly and reconstruction began.

Often, fixing what is broken in this life takes pressure and time, and the process is slow and labor-intensive. The fractured desk leg was no exception, as the shaping, gluing, clamping, and drying time took a total of 24 hours of intense pressure. Patience is needed to allow the process to happen naturally. It could not be rushed, or my intentions would fail.

Over time, the desk once again began to take shape. It began to resemble what the craftsman originally intended when it was created. The legs were repaired, the desk was reglued and clamped. Then it took hours, literally, to clean the dirt and grime from the desk.

Antique furniture restoration reminds me of the process all of heaven goes through to reclaim just one sinner. It cost all heaven had, and during the process, there was no guarantee it would work. Any slip, any misstep would cause sin to last forever, leaving those Christ came to save marred and eternally lost.

Christ came and carefully illustrated before us all of the process necessary for humanity to be fully restored to the same glory our first parents had in the garden tabernacle of the pre-incarnate Christ called the Garden of Eden.

Jesus has called the Christian church His workshop. Each master restorer works in conjunction with heaven to restore broken humanity. As with furniture, the process takes time, and it is labor-intensive. Often, what is being repaired comes under duress as it resists change. But slowly, patiently, heaven and the church, God’s instrument of restoration here on earth, work together to restore those who have been purchased at a great price. Why? Because the master carpenter saw value in what looked worthless and emptied the treasury of heaven to purchase and then restore what the universe saw as of no value.

In the words of Isaiah, “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (58:12, NKJV).

The original version of this commentary was posted by the Rocky Mountain Conference.