Can new purpose be found?

Beautiful old things catch my eye—weathered furniture, picket fences, barns. This gorgeous old truck with its fat fenders and bug-eye headlights.


Photo by Cayton Heath on Unsplash

I love the concept of taking something that’s no longer usable in its current condition and creating something new and functional out of it.

Upcycling. Repurposing.

This wonderful old wooden door with its torn screen beautified my front porch for several years. A red chair sporting a birch basket of pinecones set in front of the door, and a “welcome” sign hung from it.

Comments were made through the years about my “porch art” (not all of them complimentary).


Once upon a time it was “porch art”

And then I moved from that place and all my belongings were stored by some friends on their acreage.

Fast forward five years. My friends delivered my stuff to Dan’s shop, including the weathered screen door I had forgotten about. 

After some pondering, Dan and I came up with the brilliant idea to repurpose it as a pantry door.

Dan glued and clamped and made general repairs. I stained the door, painted it a turquoisey-blue, roughed up the edges with sandpaper to allow splashes of dark stain to show through. And the torn screen was replaced.

What was once a happy screen door, slapping against the wooden frame of an old house, will soon be a pantry door with a spring wreath hanging from it.


New pantry door

New paint, new usefulness, new worth. And just as happy in its new life.

According to Merriam-Webster, repurpose means “to change (something) so that it can be used for a different purpose.”

It’s the idea that when an object or building is no longer useful for its original intent, instead of abandoning it, it’s given a new life—just as consequential as its old purpose.

This is what God does with us humans, His most prized creation.

When we lose purpose in life—as a result of job loss, of not being able to carry a child to full term, of divorce, or death of a loved one, or loss of health—God can take our discarded hopes and dreams and fashion them into a new and useful function, one we can love just as much as the old purpose we didn’t want to lose.

Dan and I had purpose in our first marriages. We partnered with our spouses in parenting and ministry and volunteer work. 

And then cancer snatched that life from Dan, from me. 

But God was not caught off guard. He had a design in mind that we couldn’t have possibly seen through the fog of our separate grieving. 

In His timing, God arranged a meeting between Dan and me—an interview, actually, because he knew that a blind date wouldn’t work.

God in His wisdom and matchmaking skills simply set up an interview. That led to a hike. That led to more hikes and snowshoeing and long conversations over Chai tea, that led to a deeper friendship, that led to dinners out and meals in and volunteer work together.

That eventually led to a marriage proposal.

Which opened the doors for new purpose, using the same skill sets and interests that have lived within Dan and me all along. But now blended. And stronger because of the blending.

This insight from author and speaker Bob Goff:

God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made.

And then, leaning over us, He whispers, ‘Let’s go do that together.’

Even if our original attention-capturing, soul-feeding identity is no longer obtainable, God still leans over us and whispers, “Let’s go do that new thing together.”


Want to extend your life expectancy?


How beautifully fragile are we?


  1. Larry Hess

    One of the things I enjoy most in this life is when a God follower shares their heart. I am always looking for this in words and deeds. Thank you Marlys!

  2. Hi Marlys. This is so timely. My goal this weekend is to take steps towards defining God’s new purpose for my life. Significant changes have happened this past year which have resulted in the need to redirect what I thought my purposes were. It’s so nice to read your encouraging thoughts. And – I love the renewed door!!

    • So good go to hear from you, Char. I’ll pray for you as you take steps toward defining God’s new purpose for your life. Blessings.

  3. Dave McDowell

    I love this: “Even if our original attention-capturing, soul-feeding identity is no longer obtainable, God still leans over us and whispers, “Let’s go do that new thing together.”

    Sometimes the new thing is the old thing repurposed. Wait, no or let’s go but the best part is God still whispers. That shows me
    that when I am impatient or complaining God is calm, patient and waiting for me to stop making noise so I can “hear” His whisper.

    • Well said, Dave: “… when I am impatient or complaining God is calm, patient and waiting for me to stop making noise so I can “hear” His whisper.” So we can hear God’s whisper.

  4. Pat

    Oh how this post made me smile! My husband has done so much with reclaimed wood. I need to figure out how to share my new Coffee Bar with you two, an old door with glass, then Chris added a table top to it!

  5. Fawn

    Marley, love love your writing of our Lord and His creative love of making beauty out of ashes.♥️

  6. Dustin

    Hi Marlys! Although I am a few phases of life behind you, I read your posts and appreciate the wisdom that life has continued to grow in you. I’m storing up the things I can’t apply right now for the future and just enjoying the art you bring to your words and posts. As a professional technical writer myself, I appreciate your craftsmanship.

  7. Beautifully written Marlys. I love the imagery of the old door. So much in your writing rings true, thanks for sharing.

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