Old things new
There’s a relatively new library that’s popped up in the city of Ankara, Turkey. At first glance, it likely doesn’t look much different from any other typical library. Just as you might expect, there are endless rows of shelves filled with books that include everything from Shakespeare to Stephen King to Shel Silverstein. But this particular space gives a whole new take on the idea that books are timeless.
The collection is made up entirely of books that were once headed to landfills. Garbage collectors started noticing how many books, in otherwise decent condition, were being thrown out in dumpsters and trash cans throughout the city. So they started to fish these discarded books out of the garbage and created a whole new library.
As word spread, more and more sanitary workers rescued novels and non-fiction and everything in between from their landfill destination. Every selection that made its way to this new location was cleaned and sanitized before being placed on its proper shelf. And before long, there were over 6,000 works, including books in English and French for non-native visitors. The city even had to a hire a full-time employee to manage the influx of rescued books, and now loans out salvaged books to schools and prisons.
I don’t know who the first sanitary worker was who saw a deserted novel in a pile of garbage and quite literally decided not to judge the book by its somewhat dirty cover. But what a gift that person has now given to thousands of Ankara residents.
The whole concept reminds me of how God consistently tells us throughout scripture that we are treasured in God’s sight. Wonderfully made for great purpose… even when we might feel a bit useless or inadequate. So much so that God would seek us out from beneath the trash heap.
Some of my favorite words of scripture come from the prophet Isaiah who speaks on behalf of God: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you… Do not remember the former things. But behold, I am now doing a new thing.”
How amazing that God so quickly works to redeem what once appeared lost or broken in our lives. And promises that something great and new is right around the corner. God is constantly looking to bring great renewed purpose and joy to our days.
Like someone sifting through garbage to rescue a certain item, knowing it has so much more value than another may have believed it did. In the same way God assures us we are worthy of redemption—over and over again. God dusts off our jackets and gives us a new purpose. Reminding us once again that what one person might see as useless, God has named as treasure.