Masterpieces from Rubbish – Inspiration from the High Calling

Masterpieces from Rubbish

The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.

My friend Robert is an unusual artist. He makes masterpieces out of rubbish. Literally.

I first got to know Robert at Laity Lodge, where he was one of our artists-in-residence. As soon as he arrived, he headed off for our local dump to see what he could find. Robert came back thrilled with his loot, which included things like a rusted, twisted metal chair. In the following days, he turned that chair and other items of no apparent value into engaging, even beautiful works of art.

Robert’s ability to turn rubbish into masterpieces is rather like God’s way of dealing with human beings. For example, Psalm 118:22 celebrates the fact that “The stone the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” This refers, not to some literal piece of rock, but rather to the king who had been rejected. Yet, upon him the whole structure of the nation now resides. This is not some accident or bit of good luck, however, as the next verse of the psalm makes clear: “This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see” (118:23). God has taken what the powers of this world discarded as rubbish and turned it into a royal masterpiece.

Jesus used the imagery of the rejected stone to account for the fact that many Jewish leaders would reject him, even though he was God’s anointed one who would inaugurate the kingdom (Matt. 21:42-43). Scripture is filled with other examples of people of little reputation in the eyes of the world whom God used in amazing ways (David, Peter, etc.). That God is in the “turning rubbish into masterpieces” business encourages us when we feel like we are too insignificant or too damaged to be used for God’s purposes. He can and will use us in amazing ways if we make ourselves available to him.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever seen how God can use people whom the world discounts for his purposes? Do you ever count yourself out of God’s plans because you feel like damaged goods? How might God use you if you were more available to him?

PRAYER: All praise be to you, O God, because you turned the rejected stone into the cornerstone. All praise be to you because you turn rubbish into masterpieces. All praise be to you because you have chosen me to serve you, in spite of my flaws and failures.

O Lord, may I be available to you each moment. Use me for your purposes and glory. Amen.


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This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God ( You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.

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  • Susan

    A link to images of Robert’s work please?

  • Love, love, love this! My father had a desk job as NYC Sanitation Dept employee. Dad would on occasion, bring home corporate goods which were supposed to have been incinerated. Well known brands of new, unopened make-up, perfume, artists paint, comic books, publishers hard-cover books and more, found it’s way into my family’s hands. 

    Was it wrong for a government employee, paid to destroy, to “steal” garbage to nurture his own family? Your call. All I can say is: I loved my dad and am not ashamed that I learned to read, write, paint, look like a lady and more, from his “trash”; I can smile when I say, I am in part, the product of corporate refuse; and that my heavenly Father stole me from hell. Careful now in judging my dad, they tell me: He comes like a thief too. 🙂