In God’s house there are no ashcans. I’ve looked. It’s hard to fathom because my house has a trashcan, decorative of course, in every room. They fill up quickly with garbage, the one sock that failed to escape, leftovers, unmentionables, and reams of paper. Mostly I throw stuff away I can’t figure out what to do with otherwise. I stack papers in a pile marked urgent and then months and even years later, finally frustrated, I chuck it all in the nearest garbage.
Not God. God is the ultimate recycler. It’s like God grew up in the Great Depression and learned to never throw anything out. To God everything seems to hold value. God is the ultimate recycler.
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
I once heard a young woman share her story. She was kicked out of her family and lived on the streets as a prostitute and nearly died from drug abuse. She felt as if she had been tossed onto the garbage heap of life, as if she belonged there. Then God fished her out. She said because of Jesus she now knows God doesn’t have a garbage can. To God everyone holds value.
It’s hard to fathom because my life sometimes feels like it belongs in the dumper. I have good intentions that in the end seem to hold as much content as whipped cream in an aerosol can. Tasty, but no substance. I preach on love and live on self-centeredness. I pray for faith and nurture fear. Paul admitted to a similar problem, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I too betray my own deepest desires. It’s then God reminds me he has no trashcan.
Sometimes also, from no particular fault of our own, life seems to crumple us up and toss us in the heap. Most people I’ve talked to have felt that way once or twice. After these painful times, we euphemistically refer to what we carry as baggage when what we really mean is that we still have garbage hanging around our necks and out of our pockets.
What’s one to do with all of this junk? If we can’t chunk it, what can we do with it? Without trashcans our lives would be like the homes of those sad hoarders. Every flat surface is covered with trash, dozens of malnourished cats stare from behind stacks of unread newspapers, the carpet is piled with clothes and bowls and unmentionables.
God never throws anything away. He need not. “God never wastes pain,” a wise friend once told me when I was sitting on a trash heap.
“Thanks,” I snapped.
And how true is that. In God’s hands even garbage holds value.
My life’s pain and even mistakes, under the pressure of God’s sovereign grace, have been recycled into my strength, my hope, my joy. God’s house has no garbage can because God reduces, reuses, and recycles—redeems—it all. Hopelessness and rubbish don’t exist in God’s house. They don’t exist! In Christ’s nail scarred hands garbage becomes treasure. God can embody every scrap of our lives with holiness, goodness, joy, purpose, grace, and forgiveness. It’s not that it all turns out okay in the end. What a meaningless platitude that is. Things in life don’t magically turn out good. God wrestles them—redeems them—into goodness. God works at it, if we allow him.
Paul reminds us, “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by faith.” God is in the business of transforming trash into treasure, reducing, reusing, and recycling. In God’s house there are no ashcans. He has no use for them.
- Which passage spoke most to you?
- What did the four have in common?
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