This post is the second in a series. Read part one here.
Some of you know better than others that the past couple of years have had some really painful chapters for me. My little sister moved out under less than ideal circumstances, I wrote a book and faced rejection, I lost some dear friends to various enemies and even called off a relationship I planned on keeping forever. The golden light has spilled out of all these holes and I have seen God glorified, my heart has grown wiser and the lose ends are tying new knots, stronger than old ones. And yet, I still cry myself to sleep sometimes, just missing someone (or wondering what I’m missing.) I still have letters I’ll never be able to read again sitting in a box under my bed. I still skip certain songs.
Something that I’ve learned over and over again for the past few, bumpy years is that God wastes absolutely nothing. He wastes nothing and especially not our pain. Pain is perhaps what, in the end, bears the greatest fruit.
I couldn’t agree more with C.S. Lewis who said,
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Isn’t that just the undeniable truth? When do we cry out to the Lord? When we see a beautiful sunset? At most that makes us say a short prayer of praise. When do we cry out to God? When we realize that we can’t live with the pain that only He can relieve.
Just as God wastes nothing and allows nothing to return void, Jesus refuses to waste the food that He’s just produced by miracle. At first, it seems kind of odd. After all, if that bread and fish was left on the grass and went bad, couldn’t He just make some more when they needed it? Why doesn’t He just “bless and brake” again?
Because, for some reason (probably propelled by the same incomprehensible love that sent Him to this earth in the first place,) every creature and part of creation matters to Him. There are lots of babies, but every one is a miracle (as Marilla Cuthbert says) and there are lots of moms and lots of singles and lots of retirees but you are unique to God. You will never be created again. Your children may be like you but they can’t be you. You were handcrafted, one-of-a-kind. I can’t help but think that it would please God if we adopted a similar code for creation. Creation is under our feet, for our use and pleasure, but it is also His creation. My mother just joyfully shared this G.K. Chesterton quote with us at the dinner table:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
You may look just like your Aunt Monique, but you couldn’t be more unique and when God created you, He thought, “Aha! I have made something completely knew and I love it.” 1 Corinthians 3:22-23 says: “…whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Because when everything belongs to your father, it comes to you in the form of an inheritance. In a way, all is ours, but in a greater way, all is God’s and so when He says that we must “gather up the fragments that nothing be lost” and when He reminds us that He used knitting needles, not factory machines and conveyer belts to create us, we have a new perspective on creation. It is ours, but it’s also His and we must care for it as if every blade of grass, every cricket, every sunset is unique. To God, it’s personal.
If Jesus ate leftovers and God wastes nothing, if everything is handcrafted and unique to The Creator, perhaps recycling isn’t just for hippies and reducing waste isn’t just for Earth Day. Perhaps that is another reflection of The Gospel and our commitment to our father, just like adoption and fidelity and evangelism and generosity.
As Christians, we never actually lose anything. Like the loaves and the fishes, the small things we offer up are always multiplied by our miracle-working God. Just like the eco-friendly folks say, there is no “away” that we can throw things too. The same goes for this whole universe. When we give something to God, it is truly safe. Amy Carmichael said,
“All that is ever ours is ours forever.”
When Jesus was anointed at Bethany, His disciples had a pretty good point. After all, the expensive perfume in the woman’s alabaster case could never be sopped up again and that money could have gone to the poor. But was it wasted? Jesus replied:
“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
For someone who felt strongly about caring for the poor, Jesus gave this “extravagant” woman high praise, much like he did for His friend Martha who was “wasting” her sister’s precious time.
With the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us and all of the pressures and stressors of ordinary life, I hope to be like Martha who chose “the one thing that will not be taken from her.”