It’s a precious thing to make something new.

After a long winter at the bottom of my garden, I finally pulled my second hand, weatherworn garden table out into the sunshine on Saturday. I surveyed the damage done from being left out in the rain for 6 months, the wobbly legs where the odd screw had fallen out. I rolled up my sleeves.
It took all day. It was sweaty and dusty and I got covered in paint. And probably to the critical eye it’s still now not perfect. But it was a labour of love for what I knew it could be, colours that I chose, restored just the way I wanted it. Totally worth it.

I often reflect that the vision of Riverbank is one of complete restoration. But our vision is founded on the understanding that we all need restoring and there is no human being, no matter how determined, who is capable of fixing up the brokenness of our souls. I often think my own life is a bit like that table. A bit wonky, a bit shaky, weatherworn, not quite what I would really want it to be. Except I’m held in the hands of a master craftsman. The greatest creator, who doesn’t just patch up, He tells us, but is constantly making all things new.

We’ve been busy along the Riverbank this spring. There is plenty of life and as our pastoral coordinator, Sheena, often describes, a real ‘buzz’. We have started a new ‘parent hub’ in one of our schools, providing a place where our families there can find community and offer support to one another. We have a new befriender who is starting a new walk alongside a young single mum and we have several newborn babies who have joined our Riverbank family! We have continued to provide practical care and support as well as be companions in sometimes very difficult and distressing situations. As we look ahead to summer and beyond, we are getting excited about our summer events, where families can take part in lovely memory making days together, and two new groups beginning in September that will support our families with children with special needs and Mums with school age children.

There’s a lot of buzz. There’s a lot of restoring and crafting and creating and I am so thankful for our amazing staff team and incredibly faithful volunteers. But I am reminded once again, that our works, our brushstrokes, and our efforts to help and support people in difficult and vulnerable situations, no matter how successful, consistent or determined, cannot ultimately transform or heal a heart. They can give confidence, they can alleviate suffering and hardship, which in themselves are such important things, but human hands cannot restore a broken heart. They cannot make, as Tolkein once wrote, ‘everything sad come untrue’.

But our continuing and unerring hope at Riverbank and the ongoing prayer for this ministry is that through our work and through our relationships, Jesus would reveal the depth of His love for each and every person that we support and care for. That is always at the core of everything that we do because His hands are the only ones that can make everything new. His love alone is deep and wide and high enough to conquer our mountains of shame or comfort us in the most profound sadness, and no matter how long the transformation takes, no matter the state of the heart that finds its way into His hands, He has committed himself all the way to the point of death to bring us fully back to life. To restore us. To make us new. To shine His glorious light through our lives when we trust ourselves to Him.

It’s the offer of God to all human beings, the invitation to a beautiful eternal future with Him, no matter what the history of our lives that lies behind.

June 2016
Ellie Hughes