Ornament of Grace

Ornament of Grace
December 19, 2019

The Old, Oak Buffet

Editor’s Note: This article is edited and reprinted from Dec., 1998.

I love old things: old linens, old dishes, old furniture, and especially old houses, because I like to imagine how people lived in days gone by.  I find it fascinating to step back in time and try to put myself into the setting of an earlier era.  So, for me, all antiques and “old things” have a story to tell.  I don’t mind if there are nicks in the wood, a few creaks in the flooring, or wear and tear resulting from years and years of loving use.  I can understand and “forgive,” because I figure after all, they’ve been through a lot.

The warm, comforting feeling I get when I am in an old home, or surrounded by time-worn furniture pieces probably goes back to the visits I made as a young girl, to my grandparents’ farm.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see the old piano in the living room, the patterned rugs on the hardwood floors, the high ceilings, and the wide woodwork throughout the house.

Every spring, without fail, all by herself, Grandma would hang new wallpaper to freshen the house.  Even that musty smell so common in old houses sends a wave of nostalgia over me!

It is for reasons like this, as well as my maternally-inherited sense of thriftiness, that I find enjoyment in furnishing our old, restored home with garage sale bargains and flea market finds.  To be sure, it is the old things that have the character, are more solidly built, and come complete with their own “personal history.”  I don’t remember for sure, now, when it was I decided I would dearly love to have an old, oak buffet, if someday the Lord would provide one.

One of my mother’s close friends has one that I have admired for years.  I have looked longingly at buffets in antique stores, but because of the huge prices, they have always seemed quite out of the realm of possibility.  Nonetheless, tucked away in the recesses of my heart, this little desire has remained.

This past fall, while on my way to visit my parents, I “happened” to drive past an apartment building with several garage doors open- obviously having a sale.  I debated with myself, whether I had the time to stop, but my “garage sale nose” must have sensed a good deal, so on the spur of the moment, I quickly turned in.  Here was this dear, little old lady who, with three full garages, was “downsizing” her collection of antiques with an unadvertised sale!

After some digging around in the back of one garage,I discovered an old, oak buffet.  Sure, it was partially disassembled, had one door broken in pieces, creaked and wobbled at every joint, and desperately needed refinishing, but hidden beneath a thick, black layer of stain and varnish, was the beautiful oak buffet I so desired!  It had real promise!  (I could just see it in my dining room!)

To make a long story short, this lady was not interested in making money off of it; she just wanted it to have a good home.  She literally sold it to me “for a song,” and I didn’t eaven have to sing!
Now, standing in my dining ro0om, is my circa 188o’s oak buffet, which my dear husband has since repaired and refinished.  As I gaze at it, I think back to the time when I “found it,” and I marvel at the goodness of the Lord to me.  I didn’t have to have it.  My life didn’t depend on it.  I could live without it!.  After all, it’s only a material possession.  It was a desire of mine, but certainly not a necessity, but isn’t that just like the Lord?  Our Heavenly Father has promised to supply our needs, and then on top of that, He tells us that if we will delight ourselves in Him, by keeping Him in first place, He will grant us the desires of our heart.

As human parents, we have certainly enjoyed doing this for our children. Why is it so hard to imagine our Heavenly Father being the same way?  I really believe there are so many good things the Lord gives to us regularly, that we fail to acknowledge and truly appreciate.  In our busy, day-to-day lives, we take so much of God’s goodness for granted.

As we come down to the close of another year, there may be many of you dear readers who are carrying heavy burdens.  Perhaps, over the past twelve months or so, you have lost a loved one, or maybe you have had to pass through some “deep water,” spiritually, physically, or emotionally. May I encourage you to focus on the good things in your life that have come to you directly from the Hand of a loving, Heavenly Father?  Don’t allow the difficult or painful experiences of life to cause you to become callous or hardened to the Lord, or the things of the Lord.  Along life’s pathway, there are often dark days; days when clouds on our horizon will block out the sun; but for the child of God, those clouds will always have a “silver lining.”  Just think of it: No matter what happens, He has promised to never leave us to fight life’s battles alone, and when this earthly journey is finally over, heavenly bliss awaits us!

He knows what lies ahead in our lives, and over and over, fulfills little (and sometimes, even BIG) desires of our heart-reminders, if you will, just to encourage us to go on; just to remind  us of His presence in our life; just to show us, once again, His wonderful, boundless, and undeserved goodness. In Psalm 107:15, God’s Word tells us how we should respond to these reminders in life: “Oh, that men would praise the LORD, for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.”

These reminders often come in the form of material possessions, like the old, oak buffet was for me, but many times, the Lord uses other things- and other Christians- to encourage our heart and show His goodness to us.  Have you ever thought about how lonely you would be, if you did not have Christian friends with whom to share the joys and sorrows of life? Imagine going to the doctor, and hearing the dreaded news that you have cancer, or some other life-threatening sickness.  Of course, our fist and foremost source of help and comfort should be our Heavenly Father, but what a blessing it is to have Christian friends to pray with us and FOR us, at such times!

In our church family, we have seen it proven over and over, that when any one of us experiences a deep need or trial, it is not long before other members are on our doorstep offering meals, services, prayer support, and whatever comfort they can give.  Of course, as members of the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to let our church family know when we have a deep need.

In my years as a pastor’s wife, I have seen it happen more than once, that those who have a “chip” on their shoulder- expecting others to be “mind-readers,” and being offended when they aren’t- will turn right around and fail, themselves, to see and respond to the needs of others.  May we lay aside such selfishness and pettiness, and desire, instead, to be so Christ-like in our treatment of each other, that the world will know “we are Christians by our love.”  (Jn. 13:35)

We are in this together, as the saying goes, and the truth is, we all need each other.  It was God’s design for members, within the human family, and withinthe church family, to be co-dependent.  Sometimes, the Lord has to put us in situations we would never have chosen for ourselves, just to teach us this principle, and to cause us to open up and even allow others to help us.

Since there is no such thing as the perfect Christian, all of us have some improvements we could make in the kind of friend we are, and the expectations we have of our friends.  In the coming New Year, let us strive to encourage and edify our friends, for the glory of the Lord!

May we not get so busy during this holiday season, that we fail to really “see” the rminders of the goodness of the Lord to us, in daily life.  We have these reminders all around us, you know; a note or phone call from a dear friend; a hug when we need it most; that special gift under the tree; a child’s voice calling you “Mommy;” a church where we can hear the truth; good health; the privilege of holding God’s Word in our hands; a sympathetic smile from a friend, when you thought no one understood; knowing your sins are forgiven, and your past is forgotten; a spouse who knows all your faults, and loves you anyway; not having to worry about where you’ll get your next meal; a pastor and pastor’s wife who love you and desire God’s best for you; sharing a laugh with a friend to brighten your day; a place to serve the Lord; knowing your service “is not in vain in the Lord;” a child or teenager in your home, who has a heart for God; a friend who… I must stop, but the list could go on and on, because God’s goodness never ends!

Oh, by the way, before I forget: you are invited to our church family Open House this Christmas time.  We are really looking forward to having you in our home. This will be just a few short days from now, and I promise to have the tree all trimmed and lit, the wreaths and garland hung, and the fire burning brightly in the hearth.  When you arrive, you can see for yourself, God’s goodness to me, when I serve you Christmas treats from my old, oak buffet!  At that moment, I will feel so blessed to have you in my home, and I will be thanking the Lord so much for the privilege to call you my friends.  See you then!

Verses for Meditation- Ps. 37:4; Matt. 7:11; Ps. 107.